Category Archives: Pregnancy

The 2013 Healthgrades Reports Women Need to Lean In

I participated in a campaign on behalf of Mom Central Consulting for Healthgrades. I received a promotional item as a thank you for participating.

According to Healthgrades, when we approach our health and the care we receive, we need to lean in, ask questions, investigate options and take charge of our healthcare futures. “Lean In”, the theme of this year’s report, builds on the popularity of Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook’s, best-selling book.

Our arrival in New York from New Zealand was delayed due to paperwork at the US government level. I arrived in New York 6 and a half months pregnant and my search for an OBGYN in a new country, with a healthcare system foreign to me was not easy. No one wanted to take me on, that late in the pregnancy I was considered a risk.

As I reached 32 weeks, I  remember breaking down in tears on the phone with one receptionist. My first born was 3.5 weeks early and doctors in New Zealand told me their was a 95% likelihood that this one would come early too – the clock was ticking and I was at risk of going into labor and having a complete stranger deliver my baby. This was scary and also stark contrast to my first delivery which was an all natural delivery in a hospital with a midwife I’d had a relationship with since the 12th week of my pregnancy.

It was at that point that thankfully I discovered Healthgrades online. I was able to search on a variety of values, such as region, doctor’s qualifications and background as well as star ratings from other moms. I tracked down a doctor that had a gentle approach to obstetrics and I ultimately my wishes were maintained at the labor. 



Save the Children and Bring Down Barriers to Breastfeeding

Proud to have been able to breastfeed my babies

Save the Children released a report this past Sunday highlighting the barriers women face in their decision to breastfeed. Rather than supporting a moms desire to breastfeed, moms in developing countries instead experience roadblocks. Did you know that breastfeeding is critical to preventing malnutrition and saving children’s lives in the developing world? Breastfeeding immediately after birth could help save 830,000 newborn babies from dying a year, and exclusive breastfeeding for six months could save even more babies and children.  To me it is staggering that Save the Children’s report has identified legislative barriers, aggressive marketing tactics, and cultural myths that prevent those first bonding moments of breastfeeding between mother and child. As someone who has breastfed both of my children, I feel lucky, honored and above all blessed to have had the support and health to do so.

Save the Children identified the ‘Power Hour’, that initial breastfeeding moment when babies suckle the colostrum as a lifesaving consumption of a Superfood. The colostrum jump starts a baby’s immune system – and why if mom is healthy and able to, would you not want to provide this for your baby?

On the heels of President Obama’s State of the Union address pledge to help to save children around the world from preventable deaths, Save the Children’s new report investigates what is keeping more women from breastfeeding immediately after birth or continuing for six months.

- Save  the Children,  Superfood for Babies press release



Mommy Mindset: When to try for another baby

This week’s moms include Mariah from Formula Mom, LaVonne from Long Wait for Isabella, Gena from Life with Captain Fussybuckets, Tonya from Bringing Up Hopkins, Darcy from Tales From the Nursery, Sarah from East 9th Street, Cyndy from Mama Does It All, Valerie from Valerie’s Reviews, Leila from The Go To Mommy, Emily from Nap Time is My Time, Lena from Way2GoodLife, and myself.

The Mommy Mindset: Deciding When to Try For Another Baby

This topic is one that many husbands and wives struggle with. At times one partner wants one thing while the other wants something else. Other times husband and wife are in complete agreement as to when to try for another baby. One thing is for sure – the addition of 1, 2, 3 or how many other children to the family dynamics changes everything. I would say the addition of a new little one is always for the good.

Mariah: J and I would like to have another child and we have a plan! We plan to start trying for our second when W is about 2 1/2 so that he will be 3 a few months before the second baby is born. We hope that W will be potty-trained (or close) by then so that we don’t have two in diapers. My aunt watches W during the day so we would also like W to be less of a baby so she can manage two at a time! Of course, when I hear about people I know finding out that they are pregnant, I get a bit of an itch! How did you know if was time to start trying for another child? If you only have one, do you have an idea of when you might try for another? My approach has been very logical but I know there is more to it than that! I just cannot comprehend those who choose to try for 2 under 2!



the 4th trimester no one talks about

No one talks about the three month period after you have the baby. I know the first time I envisaged it would be effortless breasfeeding, a sweet smelling giggly baby and me being at the best weight of my life due to breastfeeding. Reality was that breastfeeding was a bitch in the beginning, though my baby was in fact sweet smelling he also often smelt of milk which was also nice but also due to the fact that he had bad reflux and would projectile vomit over himself, me and whatever couch I was sitting on when I breastfed. And the giggling, he did and still does do plenty of that but he also cried shrilly painful cries from the reflux. oh, and the breastfeeding, forget it. I returned to pre pregnancy weight pretty quickly, but over the year I breastfed my weight yo-yoed up and down (more up then down).

More than ever you need to not pressure yourself to be a supermama, especially if you are also having to nurture one or many older siblings. Their is also still alot of development going on for baby during this time. Let the laundry and dishes go for a day or two or three. Ok, the laundry may be a bit harder if you are dealing with explosive poos, spit up and leaky boobs – yes, I am dealing with or have dealt with all of these things in the past week since the birth of Monkey #2. You have bigger things to deal with, namely the surge of hormones playing havoc on your tired brain. No matter how good  a sleeper your baby is, you will lose sleep in the first 3 months. Their wee tum tums can only take in so much milk at once, hence most doctor’s and midwives’ standard recommendation to feed every 2-3 hours while you both get the hang of the breastfeeding thing.

Breastfeeding is natural, but it doesn’t mean it’s easy. Get help from a lactation consultant your OB/midwife or even a friend. A conversation I had with a friend about holding your boob like a hamburger, was the final clincher in me sorting out Monkey #1 latching. Trust me, remember ‘hold your breast like a hamburger‘ and it will make sense once you have the baby in front of you and the boob in your hand. Thankfully for us 2nd time and beyond mamas, the body remembers, like muscle memory, and your milk will kick in alot quicker the second time around. This time around a nurse at the hospital was able to give me a few quick tips and it all came back to me – team Me and Monkey #2 had this breastfeeding thing sorted in no time. On a side note: don’t be too smug because you can breastfeed. Some women want desperately to breastfeed but can’t for all kinds of medical reasons. Also, the best advice I was given by my midwife with Monkey #1 was to give it time. It takes time for your milk to come in, on average 2-5 days. If you want to breastfeed, keep at it, get help, do all that you can til you’ve exhausted your resources. Because Monkey #1 was 3.5 weeks early and I had never breastfed before, neither of our bodies was ready. He was too sleepy, and my body was just not ready. I had to use an industrial size pump for 2 weeks to get my milk supply up while he got his energy levels up. I still shutter at the thought of the whirring engine of the pump I was hooked up to like a cow every 2 hours. The good news is that I was able to breastfeed without any problems for a year and was able to use a much smaller battery-operated hand pump when I needed some milk on reserve.

Kankles and water retention. You are likely to retain water somewhere – your ankles, hands, arms. It may be one part of your body or it may be all over. For me its the dreaded kankles. If anything it reminds me to rest more than I probably want to, and to keep my feet up. The compression socks I wore on the plane over here are coming in handy. Drink lots of water and stay off the salty foods. But then again, don’t stress too much about what you eat. My first meal at 2:00 AM once I was finally settled in a room and Big Monkey could pull himself away from Monkey #2 to go out and buy, was a chicken salad sandwich and yummy salty fries. Their is much debate on what you should and shouldn’t eat specifically around breastfeeding. I’ve been told not too much fruit or spicy foods. But then it can be argued how do Indian mothers breastfeed, don’t they eat largely spicy foods? I think introduce extreme foods (such as spicy dishes) slowly. Like all things moderation.

Keep taking your prenatal vitamins if you plan on breastfeeding. That is all.

If you are breastfeeding, you can handle the lack of sleep. In fact, you can probably handle it even better than your husband or women who are bottle feeding. Prolactin is released during deep sleep as well as by mother’s who breastfeed. That is why we can hop into bed for 2 hours in between feeds and actually have a deep sleep before we get up to feed again. In the sleep cycle of most people, it would take an hour or 2 to get to the first cycle of deep sleep (the good restorative sleep). This is mother nature’s way of helping us get through the initial stage of breastfeeding. I’m not sure how long this prolactin helps out, but I can say first hand it does. I still crash at some point during the day, but overall it’s amazing how well I can function considering. While I was pregnant, the broken sleep pattern from getting up to pee 3-4 times during the night was a killer for me the next day. Now, I am probably sleeping even less at night and the next day I do not feel nearly as horrendous as I did back then.

Emotional roller coaster and irrational fears. Ah, dreaded hormones, blame them for everything. They will hit unexpectedly, make you cry for no reason (or at least no plausible reason) and even bring on nutty dreams and irrational thoughts. I remember with Monkey #1 going into his room 99 times a night (ok, slight exaggeration, but still very often) to check if he was breathing. I had him swaddled up so tightly like a little kebab that he would lay there motionless and I would wonder if he was ok. Thankfully with Monkey #2, because I know the drill I don’t seem to have these concerns.

Hair loss and bad skin. Though I haven’t experienced this personally, I have friends who have told me about washing their hair in the shower and finding clumps of hair in their hands. Be ready for it. Bad skin or really awesome glowing skin. You will have one or the other thanks to hormones settling.

You will look anywhere from 5-8 months pregnant after you give birth. Don’t be surprised when you take your first shower in the hospital and you look down to see you have not returned to your svelte former self. The only weight you are guaranteed to have lost immediately after birth is the birth weight of your child (in my case 6 lbs) and the weight of the placenta and amniotic fluid (which is on average about 4 lbs). Say hello to your new muffin top, it will be with you for the next little while. The rest of the breakdown of weight gain that you are now desperately wanting to lose looks something like this:

  • The uterus is about 2 lbs and will shrink over time, sometimes causing mild to intense pain. Again, different with everyone. With Monkey #1 I hardly felt anything. With Monkey #2, the cramps were intense in those first few days every time I breastfed her. Don’t suffer, pop a few motrin, the nurses dish it out like candy at the hospital.
  • The excess blood needed for pregnancy is another 4 lbs that is again flushed out with water. As in pregnancy, water is your best friend post partum.
  • It may have felt like you were carrying around massive melons on your chest for the past couple of months, but they really only amount to another 3 lbs. This will fluctuate as your milk comes in and you experience engorged boobies (fun! Not). They will still hold enough milk for bubba once you are in a feeding routine, but they will feel relatively normal. Hold off on buying the new bra for a few weeks to see if you are someone whose boobs completely disappear post partum or someone who gains a bra size – either is possible.
  • Apart from that, most healthy pregnancies include an extra 10-20 lbs of what most of us call fat or medical peeps might call ‘maternal stores’. This is likely to be the weight that will be the hardest to budge. Of course this can be higher or lower depending on how many cheeseburgers, ring dings and oreos you just had to have during pregnancy. Remember, you are eating for 2 when pregnant but you can still eat healthy. I think we all have cravings at some time though, and for all that we have to go through, I am hardly one to encourage you to deny them. I had a wicked craving for Whoppers with cheese for about a month during my pregnancy. It was the only food I could keep down so I let myself indulge away!
singer Pink 5 days post pregnancy

Paparazzi splashed this pic of Pink 5 days post pregnancy all over. This is what real women look like after childbirth. Deal with it Hollywood! Photo credit to iVillage.com

Model Heidi Klum 1month after pregnancy.

Model Heidi Klum 1month after pregnancy. Her freakish model genes are the exception to the rule on post-baby weight loss. Photo credit to people.com

Because your abs have separated during pregnancy, and your pelvic region has undergone some serious changes both during pregnancy and childbirth, its recommended that you refrain from exercise for 6 weeks. Heed that advice unless you get the okay before then from your doc. You need the time to let your milk come in properly (sweating can affect milk supply) and the time for your body to recuperate while dealing with the lack of sleep, crazy hormones and most importantly your new baby.

Most of all remember we are all different, so give yourself a break and know that this too shall pass. You’ve created an amazing miracle so enjoy her or him! Your body will come right both emotionally and physically, just give it time.

What do you remember about the 4th trimester that you wish someone had warned you about?



iMessenger and happy coincidences

free iMessenger conversation with my bestie in NZ and me in NYC

free iMessenger conversation with my bestie in NZ and me in NYC

Today is 11/11/11 and because this is considered to be an auspicious day that rolls around once a century the world has gone berserk with record numbers of people tying the knot, and making wishes at 11 minutes past 11. I am not a big believer in that sort of stuff, so instead I choose to celebrate the one week anniversary of Monkey #2′s birth. This time last week, I was holding her in my arms for the first time, marveling at how the day had unfolded. Looking at how perfect she is and very thankful that though she was considered preterm she would not have to spend even one night away from me in NICU (Neonatal Intensive Care Unitas so many preterm newborns do.

One week later and Monkey #2 and I are rocking this mother/daughter relationship. Monkey #1 is happy to have her around and not showing any signs of jealousy (yet!). He’s a bit surprised that she doesn’t have more energy to play with him, but he gets that now and is happy to just shower her in kisses. Big Monkey and I are gelling, making time for both Monkeys and squeezing in a bit of time for ourselves.

Having only been in New York for 2 months, I don’t have a network of people around me to come by and visit or check up on me in person. I kinda miss that, but at the same time it can be overwhelming when dealing with sleepless nights, so it’s been okay. Big Monkey has been a rock, my parents and sister have been in contact  often as well as Big Monkey’s family, so it helps to know that people are thinking of us. Besides posting here, I have been pretty quiet on Facebook and slowly getting through personal emails back to friends and family.

Between moving to New Zealand, back to Canada, then to New Zealand again, then from Christchurch to Auckland and now here to New York, I am use to periods of time where I really enjoy time to myself. It’s kinda like getting reacquainted with myself and discovering my new surroundings. I think with Thanksgiving in the States rolling around in 2 weeks and Christmas shortly after, plus wanting everyone to experience the brilliance that is Monkey #2, I’m starting to feel the need to break from my self-imposed period of introversion. Anyone who knows me, knows its not in my nature to be a loner for the long term.

So I was over the moon when my iPhone bleeped a message from my bestie in New Zealand. Back track to 3 weeks ago. I sent her an email seeing how she was doing as she was pregnant and due mid-November. In the email I was joking that with our track records, we were likely to deliver on the same day. She delivered her 3 babies about a week early each time and I delivered Monkey #1 three and a half weeks early ( I was due December 1). Fast forward to the night after I gave birth, Big Monkey’s dad told us that he thought my bestie had given birth as well. Yep, sure enough we both delivered on December 4th! How cool is that. So back to the bleeping iPhone message, we proceeded to have a conversation via the new iOS5 iMessenger service that let’s you send Multimedia Messages like photos and videos. We sent pictures of our new kiddies and their siblings back and forth. The whole exchange was really good for my soul, and was a reminder that even if I can’t be with my closest friends and family, these little connections are really important to me and I will take them however I can get them.



trendspotting from the maternity ward

Observations of what’s hot and what’s not from the haze of the post partum bliss.
1. Disposable knickers and socks with grips are the fashion accessory du jour.
Paired together with dark circles, bedhead and your butt hanging out of your hospital gown, it’s what all the cool kids are wearing. I know what I’m stashing in my bag home ;)

2. Rocking the halls looking like you are somewhere between 5 and 8 months pregnant when really you’ve just had a baby. Ace.

3. Rejoicing the return of tastebuds post partum just in time to savor hospital food. Boiled potatoes, boiled chicken, boiled veggies…Did I say yummo?

4. Forget Push Presents created specifically for the mama who pushed baby out, Partner Presents are also making a surge for those awesome labor partners who not only go through 9 months wedded to a sometimes hormonal cow, then helping us through labor but then muster up the energy to dash out and get ‘real’ food for the new mama no matter what hour of the morning she gets settled into the hospital. On a side note, the lesser revered Putz Present is awarded to the partner who is more concerned with how he did in labor than the mama’s well being.

5. Baby powder is no longer recommended. Studies have shown that babies inhale the powder and get pneumonia. (true story from a nurse)

6. Breathing and meditation are underrated. Apparently you have no “pain management plan” unless it involves drugs. And if self-hypnosis and breathing are your main plan then clearly you haven’t thought it through.

7. Cuddles and kisses are still very much in.

8. Kankles. Guess what? You may not have even had them during pregnancy but after birth they are so in. Bonus: this is an easy couple of pounds you can easily lose just by listening to your doctor and putting your feet up when your not busy being a mama.

9. Though post partum mamas may feel like they have just rode in the Tour de France, childcare is not just like riding a bike – not everything comes back to you the second time around. Nurses are the top dog for reacquainting veteran mamas to all things newborn from breastfeeding to diapering. Being nice to nurses is always good.

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Our beautiful Monkey #2 born November 4. Birth story to follow soon