Stretching to Help Prevent Pregnancy Aches and Pains

Posted on Nov 27, 2014 by No Comments

The cute little bundle of joy at the end is well worth the effort, but there’s no denying that the side effects that occur during pregnancy can be unbearable. Carrying a child for nine months means constant body changes. Back pain, leg cramps, and swollen feet are quite common among expectant mothers.

Regular stretching can help relieve many of the discomforts of pregnancy, but stretching can be tricky when your body is changing on daily basis.

Keith Hatfield, a former athletic trainer for the Kansas City Royals, designed the Hatfield Strap to help you get a relaxing stretch from the comfort of your own bed.

The shoulder strap attachment acts as a harness that makes it easier for you to hold a comfortable stretch for an extended period of time. The stretch is dependent upon your own natural body movements and takes no exertion of energy.

The foot strap is 4” wide, which means that it covers the width of your entire foot. This spreads the force of the stretch so you get the same results as stretching while standing without the added exertion or stress on your joints.

While the ease of use makes the Hatfield strap ideal for pregnant women, it’s something that can be used by nearly anyone. It’s recommended for athletes as well as people suffering from Plantar Fasciitis.

Visit the Hatfield Strap website to learn more.

Photo credit: Hatfield Strap

Earthy Bliss Baby Carriers Let You Keep Baby Close at All Times

Posted on Nov 24, 2014 by No Comments

In today’s on-the-go world, moms are busier today than ever before. Babywearing is ideal for keeping your little one close while leaving your hands free, but many baby carriers make wearing your baby difficult and uncomfortable.

Earthy Bliss baby carriers are designed to make babywearing an enjoyable experience for both mother and child. The carriers are one-size-fits-all, so both you and your husband or baby sitter can use the same carrier.

The carriers can also be adjusted to be used with children from birth to preschool. Carriers come in a wide range of styles and colorful fabric options so you can choose a carrier that you’ll be proud to use.

Since babywearing can be a bit confusing for a new mom, Earthy Bliss has a selection of instructional videos that explain how to use each baby carrier style as well as detailing the different methods of carrying newborns and older babies. If you’re not sure what style of baby carrier is best for you, watching the videos may help with your purchasing decision.

“I experienced firsthand how frustrating it can be to find comfortable, functional and fashionable baby carriers,” said founder Johna Bowden. “When I first became a mom, I searched high and low for the right one before I finally gave up and sewed it myself. The result was the first Earthy Bliss baby carrier prototype. Since that very first design, we’ve seen amazing response to our line of baby carriers. We started out hand sewing each individual order, but when the wait-list became overwhelming, we moved to mass manufacturing in Europe — and even now, we still can’t keep up with demand!”

Photo credit: Earthy Bliss

HipS-Sister Lets You Leave Your Purse at Home

Posted on Nov 14, 2014 by 1 Comment

A pretty purse is a great way to make a style statement, but busy moms don’t always want to juggle kids and a bulky handbag. For those times when you’d rather leave your purse at home, hipS-sister has the perfect solution.

HipS-sister is a 5” band that goes around your waist like a belt. It has a front secret top loading pocket ideal for a phone or iPod, a front zippered pocket for your cash and car keys, and a back zippered pocket.

The newest hipS-sister collection, sportS-sister, comes in a variety of reversible color combinations, from forest green/gold to black/red. You can also buy hipS-sisters with crystal embellishments or funky patterns. For example, the Vegas collection includes black snakeskin, leopard, zebra, and camo print products.

Since they are made with a Micropoly and Lycra mix, hipS-sister products are machine washable and very easy to clean.

HipS-sister products come in A, B, and C sizes. A size items fit women who wear pants size 0/2 to 8/10. B size fits women who wear pants size 10/12 to 14/16. C size fits women who wear pants size 16/18 to 20/22.

Prices vary according to the style you select, but most hipS-sister products are less than $30.

For times when you want to keep your hands free or when you’re visiting someplace that doesn’t allow purses or backpacks for security reasons, I think the hipS-sister would be a handy wardrobe addition. They look comfy and the different colors that are available would add style to almost any outfit.

What do you think?

Photo credit: HipS-sister

Does Your Baby Need a NogginStik?

Posted on Nov 12, 2014 by No Comments

If you prefer to purchase educational toys for your child, the NogginStik is one of the newest products promising to turn playtime into a learning experience. The NogginStik is a rattle for children ages 0-12 months.

The head of the NogginStik lights up red, blue, and green to encourage your baby to practice visual tracking. This is a crucial milestone for babies and a necessary skill children need when they are learning how to read.

The base of the toy makes a soft rattle sound and the handle is easy for baby to hold as he works on mastering grasping and exploring his sense of touch.

The NogginStik is BPA, PVC, phthalate, lead, and latex free. Intertek, one of the world’s leading independent testing authorities, has evaluated the rattle to determine that it meets or exceeds all children’s safety regulations and standards.

The NogginStik has won several toy awards, including:

  • Parents’ Choice Approved Award – 2013
  • The National Parenting Center Seal of Approval – 2013
  • The National Parenting Publications Awards (NAPPA) Gold Winner – 2012
  • Creative Child Magazine Top Toy of The Year Award – 2012
  • Play On Words PAL Award – 2012
  • AblePlay Rated – 2012

The only objection I have to this idea is the price. The NogginStik sells for $22.99 online, with free shipping in the continental US. This seems awfully pricey for a baby’s rattle, even one with an added educational benefit.

When my son was born, we were constantly losing rattles because they’d get dropped behind furniture or tossed out of the diaper bag. Keeping track of an expensive rattle would have been more of an annoyance than anything else.

What do you think of this idea? Would you buy a NogginStik for your baby?

Photo credit: NogginStik

Avoiding Unnecessary Cesarean Births

Posted on Nov 4, 2014 by No Comments

In the United States, one in three babies are born via cesarean section. Although a surgical delivery is sometimes the best option, many of these cesarean births are done simply for the convenience of the mother and/or doctor.

If you’ve never had one, a c-section can seem like a great way to avoid the prolonged pain of a vaginal delivery. But, it’s important to remember that a c-section is considered major abdominal surgery.

Fit Pregnancy says unnecessary c-sections can lead to chronic pelvic pain, wound infections, anesthetic complications, urgent hysterectomy, blood clots, and cardiac arrest for mothers.

Babies born by c-section are more likely to suffer from respiratory distress syndrome or pulmonary hypertension and be less likely to breastfeed successfully. C-sections might even place babies at a higher risk of suffering from asthma, type-1 diabetes, or food allergies later in life.

Childbirth Connection, a program of the National Partnership for Women & Families, outlines five guidelines for determining when a c-section is necessary in its recently released publication, New Cesarean Prevention Recommendations from Obstetric Leaders: What Pregnant Women Need to Know.

  1. Labor induction before the 41st week of pregnancy should only be done for medical reasons.
  2. Cesarean birth is not appropriate for most babies that are estimated to be large near the end of pregnancy. Estimates are often wrong and many large babies can be born vaginally. However, it may be appropriate if the baby is estimated to be near 11 pounds or if the baby is expected to be near 10 pounds and the mother has gestational diabetes.
  3. Cesarean is not appropriate when latent labor has gone on for more than 20 hours in first-time mothers or more than 14 hours in experienced mothers.
  4. A Cesarean birth is not needed if latent labor is slow but progressing.
  5. There is no fixed upper time limit for the pushing phase of labor.

Photo credit: Stock.chng

Helping Your Pet Adjust to a New Baby

Posted on Nov 3, 2014 by 1 Comment

When you’re expecting, you’re eager to share the news of your new arrival with everyone you meet. But, you shouldn’t overlook the fact that a new baby in the house can be very confusing for your pet.

Experts say you should start working on preparing your pet for your baby’s arrival as soon as you know that you’re pregnant.

If your pet hasn’t already been spayed or neutered, keep in mind that spayed or neutered pets are calmer and less likely to bite.

If you have a dog, consider taking a training class before your baby arrives. Having your dog be able to respond to simple commands will prevent problems once baby arrives. If you have a cat, think about whether your cat is prone to nibbling, pouncing, or swatting at you and others. These behaviors need to be redirected to appropriate objects, such as a cat play gym.

Animals have keen senses, so you should start using baby lotion, baby powder, diaper wipes, and other scented baby care products a month or so before baby arrives to give your pet time to adjust to the changes. Many experts also recommend turning on your infant swing or having friends with newborns visit to give your pet a chance to get used to unfamiliar noises.

When you’re setting up baby’s nursery, applying double stick tape to the changing table and crib area can discourage your pet from jumping. If you want to keep the baby’s room off-limits entirely, start using a baby gate right away to give your pet time to get used to the change.

Once you bring your little one home from the hospital, keep a supply of special treats handy to reward your pet for behaving properly around the baby. If your pet develops positive associations with the baby, he will be much more cooperative in welcoming a new addition to your family.

You can find more tips on the Humane Society website.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Cheap Chic Kitchen Makeovers

Posted on Oct 30, 2014 by No Comments

The kitchen is one of the most frequently used rooms in the home, especially if you’re a mother with young children. Unfortunately, it’s often the last room to be properly decorated.

The high cost of new appliances and designer cabinets might be prohibitive if you’re on a tight budget, but even a few small tweaks can give your kitchen a fresh look.

It’s amazing what happens to a room when you get rid of unnecessary items. Too much clutter makes your room look dirty and unappealing. Be honest about your cooking habits. Donate or sell cookbooks and kitchen gadgets you know you’ll never get around to using.

A fresh coat of paint is an inexpensive option that can have a big impact. Generally, you’ll want one base color and two accent colors that are used in smaller amounts. If needed, you can use heat-resistant appliance paint to fix scratches or change the color of outdated appliances.

Themes aren’t for everyone, but they can be a cute way to tie the room together. Apples, chefs, or wine bottles are examples of popular kitchen themes, but you could also choose accessories from your favorite decade for a vintage inspired kitchen.

If you can’t afford new kitchen cabinets, simply replacing the hardware will create a different look. Any major home improvement store will have a large selection of decorative knobs and drawer pulls for you to choose from. I had a friend who did this in her kitchen a few months ago and the results were amazing!

A new backsplash doesn’t have to be expensive, but it’s a great way to add an interesting design element to your kitchen. Ceramic tiles are generally the cheapest option. Another alternative is using salvaged materials from remodeling projects within your community. Check Craigslist to see what you can find.

Pinterest has lots of great kitchen makeover ideas to help you get started. Sondra Sweeney’s Low-Cost Kitchen Makeovers & Updates board is one of my personal favorite resources.

Photo credit: Stock.chng

Do You Feel Valued in the Workplace?

Posted on Oct 29, 2014 by No Comments

Dedicated people are the heart of any successful business, but I think many modern employers are failing to realize that their cost-cutting policies have a significant effect on employee morale.

I understand that businesses need to make a profit, but I also think that more companies could follow IBM’s example.

Early this year, the company announced that top executives would be forgoing bonuses to free up funds for essential research. IBM also invests heavily in the job satisfaction of its current staff members.

The company was among the first to offer paid vacations, group life insurance, and survivor benefits. In 1953, the company made headlines when the president sent out a letter saying that they believed hiring decisions should not be based on gender, race, or ethnic origin.

Today, IBM has a very family friendly work environment and is consistently one of the few technology companies honored by Working Mother as a top place for women with young children to find a desirable work/life balance.

Since technology has always been a male-dominated sector, I think this says a lot about the progressive nature of their management team.

Yes, these policies cost the company money. However, it’s a strategy that seems to be working for them. To date, IBM employees have earned five Nobel Prizes, five National Medals of Technology, five National Medals of Science, and four Turing Awards.

The company has held the record for most patents generated by a business in the United States for 20 consecutive years. Fortune ranks the company in the top 10 in terms of the number of employees, market capitalization, and profitability.

If you work outside the home, do you feel like your employer values your contributions? If not, what changes would be necessary to make you feel appreciated?

Photo credit: Stock.chng

Advertising to Children Is a Big Business

Posted on Oct 27, 2014 by 1 Comment

Did you know that the average American child watches 25,000 to 40,000 television commercials per year? This means that by the time the typical American graduates from high school, he or she has spent twice as many hours in front of a television than in a classroom.

Companies market to children because history has shown that is it effective. In the United States, $15 to $17 billion is spent each year on advertising targeted towards children — with $4 billion coming from the fast food industry alone.

The advertiser’s return on this investment is huge, however. Teens are estimated to spend $160 billion per year, while younger children spend about $18 billion per year.

One might think that children are only a factor in the purchase of toys and candy. However, even purchases that are not exclusively for children, such as the family car, are heavily influenced by their opinions.

James McNeal, a market researcher specializing in the children’s market, reports that SUVs rose in popularity once advertising helped children decided that it was no longer “cool” for Mom and Dad to drive them to school in a minivan.

Before I became a parent, I firmly believed that it was a matter of personal responsibility to limit your child’s exposure to advertising. However, I’m starting to realize that this is extremely difficult to do unless you live in an Amish community with no exposure to the outside world.

We don’t have cable TV at home, but my son still sees commercials while watching shows at Grandma’s house or when we visit a business that has a TV playing in the background. His favorite websites are filled with ads for toys and candy. There are even ads in each issue of the National Geographic Kids magazine his great grandparents got him for his birthday last year.

Are you bothered by how many ads your child sees in a typical day? Why or why not?

Photo credit: Stock.xchng