Category: Maternity

Should You Color Your Hair When Pregnant?

Posted on Feb 25, 2015 by No Comments

Gray hair has been spotted. Oh my!

Poor Kate Middleton. The press just loves to dissect every tiny detail from her dark circles to fine lines to her growing baby bump. Now the cameras have picked up “visible” gray roots while she was out and about.

I confess, I spotted my first gray hair at 28, so it’s no surprise that the 33-year-old Duchess of Cambridge has a few gray hairs. And as health conscious as she is, she may be passing on dying her hair while she’s pregnant to avoid contact with the harsh chemicals.

Who knows, she might even be going au naturel just because that’s what she wants to do. But it does bring up the question of whether or not you should color your hair while pregnant. Can it be harmful to the unborn child?

Turns out there isn’t a definitive answer. The Mayo Clinic points to a 2005 study that “suggested an association between the use of hair dye during pregnancy and the development of the childhood cancer neuroblastoma” and that other studies have not reached the same conclusion.

According to the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), when it comes to coloring your hair and other treatments the amount of exposure, the timing during pregnancy, and the frequency of use are all important factors to consider.

If you just can’t stand the idea of letting your hair color grow out while pregnant, Reyad Fritas, artistic director of Fekkai 5th Avenue, suggests highlights as your best option because, “The dye doesn’t touch the skin, is ammonia-free, and there is less oxidation to breath in versus a [full] color.”

And for covering that gray, he suggests a gentle semi-permanent, ammonia-free dye. He admits the coverage isn’t the same offered by a permanent dye, but it can “still create a natural look.”

This topic is one of those personal choice subjects. While there’s no hard proof that coloring your hair while pregnant can harm your baby, it isn’t recommended by doctors for the first three months to avoid contact with the ammonia.

If you have concerns about what you should do, talk with your health care provider.

Photo credits: Dean Wissing

Designer Babies Okayed by Parliament: Are We Playing God?

Posted on Feb 23, 2015 by No Comments

When I heard that the U.K.’s Parliament had okayed a controversial fertility procedure that uses the DNA of three different people, it brought to mind genetically engineered populations of Science Fiction.

With technological advances coming at us faster and faster, I often feel like I’m living within a Science Fiction-like reality and this time is no different.

The bill which passed authorizes an in-vitro fertilization technique that combines two parents’ genetic material with that of an additional female donor.

The procedure allows women who carry the genes for mitochondrial disease to carry their own biological children without passing on the risk. It’s the kind of thing they talk about in futuristic novels and movies, a way way to filter out genetic weaknesses.

The mitochondrion (plural mitochondria) is a membrane bound organelle found in most cells that make up plants, animals, humans and other forms of life.

Mitochondrial creates more than 90 percent of the energy needed to support life, and mitochondria diseases occur when the mitochondria fails. It results in less and less energy within the cell and can lead to cell death.

As this condition is repeated throughout the body, systems begin to fail and quality of life is compromised. Symptoms may include loss of motor control, gastro-intestinal disorders, muscle weakness and pain, poor growth, and more.

It’s a disease that primarily affects children, but it is becoming more common in adults, too.

To accomplish this feat, they’ll start with a donor egg which has been cleared of everything but its mitochondria. They’ll insert the maternal spindle (the nucleus of the mother’s egg). The resulting egg will then be fertilized with the father’s sperm.

The result is a child who is biologically the child of the parents but without the risk of mitochondria disease. It won’t affect the way they look, the color of their eyes, or any of those other characteristics passed from one generation to the next.

The procedure is being embraced by researchers, bioethicists, and government advisors around the world. They call it “an international demonstration of how good regulation helps medical science to advance in step with wider society.”

However, there are also those who question whether or not we’re playing God and even “walking in Hitler’s footsteps.”

What do you think? Is this a road we should follow?

Photo credits: wikipedia

Twin Births Not as Rare as They Used to Be

Posted on Jan 30, 2015 by 1 Comment

Twins run on my husband’s side of the family. His mother had twin sisters, and a couple of his aunts had twins. Plus one of his father’s brothers had a set of identical twins. While that doesn’t sound rare, twins were a rare thing.

My side of the family didn’t have any twins. When my daughter was pregnant, we wondered if it she might have twins, but both of her pregnancies were single births.

In 1995, 96,736 were born. That was up from 1990’s 93,865. While those numbers sound high, when you think about the 4,179,000 babies born in the U.S. in 1990, twin births were still rare.

Now with more and more couples using fertility drugs, the rate of twin births hit a new high in 2013, according to the National Center for Health Statistics (NCCS) at Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The numbers had actually stabilized between 2009 and 2012 and then doctors saw a change.

In 2013 they delivered 33.7 sets of twins out of every 1,000 deliveries. Don’t ask me how they get a number with a decimal like that when it comes to children. I never could figure out how we can have 2.3 children. The point is that the 2% increase from 2011 to 2012 is considered large for a single year for a grand total of 131,269 twin births.

To put it into terms that are easier to understand, back in 1980, 1 in 53 babies was born a twin. Now it is one in 30 babies born in the U.S. That’s a big difference making twins less rare than they used to be.

Along with twin births being on the rise, the NCHS reports that in 2014 the number of triplet births and higher multiples is actually on the decrease. They attribute this to better control of fertility treatments that allow one embryo to develop rather than several at a time. Guess they figured we don’t need any more Octomoms.

As for twins, they are still special, but just not as rare as they used to be.

Photo credits: wikimedia

Shakira Shows Off Baby Bump for UNICEF

Posted on Jan 23, 2015 by 1 Comment

Last August, Shakira announced she was pregnant with her second child. She happened to mention it in an interview with Spain’s Europa Press as she talked about going back to work on her next album once she gave birth.

“Next year, I think after the baby is born, I’ll start producing my new album. A Spanish album, which is what has me most excited right now.”

I don’t know about you, but other people’s pregnancies always seem to go faster than mine did. Shakira posted pics of herself and her soccer player boyfriend, Gerard Pique, and others that included their two-year-old son, Milan, to Facebook and Instagram. She looks great, but it made me realize that her due date is already drawing near.

The pictures were part of UNICEF’s World Baby Shower campaign where people can purchase “inspired gifts” from life-saving items for babies. These items are donated to new families who live in extreme poverty.

The 37-year-old star and her 27-year-old boyfriend are encouraging parents around the world to host World Baby Showers as a way to provide all kinds of vital supplies to families in need, including medicine, food, vaccines.

In a statement published by E! they said, “In 2013, we welcomed Milan, our first child into the world. Thanks to your generosity, our first World Baby Shower for UNICEF was an incredible success!”

They went on to invite other expecting parents to join them with their own World Baby Shower. “You don’t have to be a celebrity to make a difference—the birth of your child can be a blessing that also saves thousands of children’s lives around the world!”

They invite everyone to either buy a gift or hold a shower. In this way everyone can help in their own small way and make a big difference.

Photo credits: Instagram

What We Can Learn From Kate Middleton’s Maternity Fashion

Posted on Jan 16, 2015 by 1 Comment

Pictures of Kate Middleton are popping up everywhere since she has passed her bout with severe morning sickness, and when it comes to maternity fashion the pictures don’t disappoint.

Somehow the princess pulls off looking elegant and sexy even when she’s pregnant. I confess, that is not a trick I learned when donning my maternity outfits. I choose maternity clothes to “make do” since pregnancy is a temporary condition, but that wasn’t necessarily the best decision I could have made.

So what can we learn from the Duchess of Cambridge’s maternity fashion choices?

Not that we can all look like Kate Middleton, but the thing we can learn from her is that she understands her assets and body type.

She has nice legs, so that sky blue double breasted coat she wears these days is cut just above the knee. The double breasted cut lays smoothly across her midsection, and she can wear it with a stylish pair of boots.

I recently spotted a picture of her wearing a black floor-length dress with lace sleeves which gives her a long lean look. Her hair was in an updo, which showed off her long neck. She accessorized with a single pair of dangly earrings that contributed to her elegant profile.

Kate Middleton Maternity
Another black, knee-length dress worn with heels and her hair down included an edgy pattern and a fitted waist. Again, she knows her body type, and her waist, even when pregnant is an asset.

The waistline was cut a little higher, but between the pattern in the dress moving the eye away from the belly, her slender legs accentuated with heels, a neckline that highlighted her collarbone, and a simple pair of earrings, she looked stunning.

So what can we learn from Kate Middleton’s fashion choices? It’s that it is much like fashion any time. You choose clothing that complements your new enhanced body type. She also reminds us that just because we are pregnant, doesn’t mean we have to give up on fashion.

Photo credits: Buzz60

Study Shows Nail Polish Can Lower IQ in Unborn

Posted on Jan 15, 2015 by No Comments

Many of us enjoy pampering ourselves with a manicure. It’s fun just to relax and have someone else take care of us, and when we walk out with those shiny, colorful nails we feel pretty.

Now a study shows that the chemicals found in nail polish as well as other cosmetics, called phthalates, may potentially be hazardous to the unborn.

The study which was conducted by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and published in the online journal PLOS ONE linked use of nail polish during pregnancy to lower IQ in children.

Preliminary results showed the unborn children exposed to elevated levels of two common chemicals used around the home, di-n-butyl phthalate (DnBP) and di-isobutyl phthalate (DiBP), had IQ scores more than six points lower, at age 7, than other kids who were exposed to lower levels.

When I read the results I wondered exactly how much exposure was required to reach “elevated levels.”

For this study, researchers studied the mothers-to-be’s urine to measure levels of four phthalates. Then when the children were born and reached age 7, the researches tested their IQs. Results “showed significant decrements in IQ associated with two specific phthalates.”

The moms with levels in the top 25 percent had children with IQs up to 6-8 times lower than children born to women who were in the lowest 25 percent of exposure to phthalates. That’s a big difference. In fact it was substantial enough that it even took the researchers by surprise.

While these chemicals are found in nail polishes, they are not the only culprit. These chemical compounds are used to keep products flexible.

Along with nail polish they are used in making cosmetics like soap, shampoo, perfume, hair spray, as well as plastic toys, shower curtains, wallpaper, plastic wrap, etc. They are listed as “reasonably anticipated to be a human carcinogen.”

More research is needed to understand exactly how the phthalates are connected to the impact on IQ. Speculation is that phthalates may function like endocrine disrupters to the mother’s thyroid hormone which is necessary in the development of a child’s brain.

At this time, the authors of the study say, “These findings are important to inform policy makers of the potentially harmful effects of this class of chemicals.”

Photo credits: LaFemme5278

Woman Breaks News She’s Pregnant in Photo Booth

Posted on Jan 14, 2015 by 1 Comment

When I was younger and photo booths were more prevalent, I would regularly drag unsuspecting victims in there and get them to do goofy things and captured it all in those few snapshots.

For instance, I’d say, “For the first picture I’ll bend down, so it’s just you. On the second one, you bend down and it will be just me. Then we’ll both be up.” I wouldn’t give them time to think about it.

Along with various friends, I’ve got some with my mother, mother-in-law and even my grandmother. The photos show us laughing together during those moments in time when memories are created. They make for precious keepsakes for sure.

In December I read about a guy by the name of Kevin Morran who proposed to his girlfriend, Molly McGinnis, in a photo booth. I thought, “What a great idea.” The two of them were high school sweethearts and had known each other for seven years. He practiced his one-hand presentation of the ring beforehand so he wouldn’t mess up.

Not only did they get pictures that captured the exact moment, the company that makes the photo booth even gave Kevin a code so he could access video of the entire proposal! It captures his nervousness, her surprise, and their genuine happiness. It couldn’t have been better if it had been staged by a professional photographer.

Now the two of them frequent photo booths regularly. Jessica even tapes her phone to the front of the booth so she can capture video, too.

This worked to Jessica’s advantage when she decided to capture another milestone on film. She brought her fiancé back to the photo booth, but this time it was her turn to add the element of surprise. They started out with the standard smile at the camera pose. Just before the flash, she held up a little cap that said “baby” into the frame.

The footage is priceless. It captures all the surprise, disbelief, and tears of happiness. I can’t help but think how much this will mean to their son or daughter some day in the future, too.

Photo credits: Jessica Devins

What Not to Say to a Mom-to-Be

Posted on Jan 12, 2015 by 1 Comment

With my first pregnancy, I didn’t gain a lot of weight. Even so, my face grew rounder, my breasts were fuller, and of course my stomach grew bigger. I carried my daughter high, which led to heartburn in the later months.

Even though I wasn’t “big” by some standards, I sure felt big. But what can you expect when you have another life growing inside you?

With that pregnancy, I didn’t get a lot of comments on my size, but when someone said it could be “worse” it irked me. My self-image struggled to remember that eventually the baby would be born and I’d go back to normal.

Or so I thought.

When my daughter was born I was thrilled, but I wasn’t one of the lucky ones whose body snapped back into shape without a telltale mark. I learned firsthand what stretch marks were.

With my second pregnancy, I didn’t gain too much weight but I was much bigger. Part of it was that the baby was a little more than two pounds bigger, and while that doesn’t sound like a lot, when you add it to a pregnant belly it does make a big difference.

And I did gain more weight. The last couple of months I felt like I needed a crane to get out of a chair, so when people said things like, “You’re huge!” it didn’t help. I promise you, no woman wants to hear that she’s huge…ever.

I carried my second baby low, and even commented to the doctor about it. It was a little more uncomfortable at the end, but I didn’t have heartburn. However, when someone suggested the baby carried low because I lost my muscle tone with the first pregnancy, I didn’t find that helpful.

In short, I’d suggest you don’t talk about a pregnant woman’s size, or even how they’re carrying the baby. And no, they don’t want to hear they look like they could pop at any moment. Even if it is an innocent comment, it can hurt.

Don’t forget, pregnant woman are experiencing all kinds of hormonal changes that are contributing to their mental state. Telling them they will have a boy because their thighs have gotten big will not be looked at as exciting news.

No one, pregnant or not wants to be told they look like they could pop or that their thighs are big. Instead, approach a pregnant woman by asking how they are feeling, or remind them that they are beautiful or glowing. Positive words work wonders.

Lastly, keep your birth horror stories to yourself. Moms-to-be don’t need to hear about how you were in labor for three days or had the baby in the car along the side of the road.

Photo credits: Meagan

What You Need to Know About Breast Cancer During Pregnancy

Posted on Jan 9, 2015 by 1 Comment

When it comes to breast cancer, our biggest risk factor is being a woman. We can’t do anything about that risk factor, but some risk factors are preventable.

One of those that some people aren’t aware of is related to how old we are when we become a mom for the first time. Those of advanced maternal age have an increased risk for breast cancer because there’s a greater chance cancer cells are present and the increased risk is because there’s a chance such cells will respond to the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy.

So what is advanced maternal age for a first time mom? You probably won’t believe it. It’s 30 or older. Research has shown that having your first child by age 24 or younger can actually reduce your lifetime breast cancer risk.

The reason behind this is that two-thirds of breast cancers are estrogen positive which means they grow during pregnancy. The longer we wait to have our first baby, the higher chance we run of having cancer cells present that will respond to the existing gestational estrogen boost present during pregnancy.

It’s not that pregnancy after 30 causes cancer, it’s more like it excites cancer cells already present…if they are present.

With that said, it is important to note that breast cancer during pregnancy is rare. And while breast cancer during pregnancy may grow quickly, it is treatable if detected early. The thing that makes this a little tricky is that our breasts change so much during pregnancy that it is easy to dismiss a lump as part of that change.

Treatment options will depend on varying factors from the size of the tumor, its location, whether or not the cancer has spread, and how far along you are in the pregnancy.

Even during pregnancy you should continue your breast self-exam to stay tuned in to the changes your body is going through. The breasts become denser, but if you are concerned with something you find it is important to talk to your doctor about it.

Photo credits: mahalie stackpole