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How To Properly Disinfect Pumps & Bottles To Avoid The Flu

This flu season has been one to reckon with, so it’s more important than ever to keep you and your baby healthy and as far away from this illness as possible. We spoke with Molly Petersen, Certified Lactation Counselor at Lansinoh, to find out how to deeply clean breast pumps and bottles in order to avoid sickness as these items tend to pick up a lot of germs and residue.

When it comes to breast pump parts and bottles, Petersen says: “They should be washed as soon as possible after use.” She also comments that if you aren’t in an area where you can wash that quickly, simply rinsing the parts that were in contact with milk, will remove the residue until it can be cleaned all the way through.

If you’re looking to wash by hand, Petersen says, “fill a basin with soap and hot water, and scrub the parts with a brush dedicated for parts and bottles. Rinse the parts in clean water and allow them to air dry.” If you’d rather save on time, you can also wash pumps and bottles in the dishwasher. Place parts and bottles on the top rack (use a mesh bag for the smaller pump parts) and run the dishwasher with hot water and on the heated dry cycle. To get your pumps and bottles even cleaner, check if your dishwasher has a sanitizing setting, just to go that extra mile.

If both of these don’t work or you feel like you need to do more, according to Petersen, “moms can sanitize by simply boiling them.” Place all of the parts and bottles into a large pot of water and let it boil for five minutes. After the time is up, remove everything and let them air dry and then store in a sealed container so they stay clean until the next use!

To learn more, visit lansinoh.com!

Create Future Gourmets With Jenna Helwig’s “Baby-Led Feeding”

Create Future Gourmets With Jenna Helwig’s “Baby-Led Feeding”

Jenna Helwig

Jenna Helwig, a local mom, cookbook author, and food editor of Parents magazine, firmly believes that mealtime should be fun for everyone—even those still figuring out how to chew. Her new book, Baby-Led Feeding, hits shelves on March 13, and it guides parents through making their child’s first experiences with solid food both fun and delicious, creating lifelong healthy eating habits in the process.

What is baby-led feeding?

Baby-led feeding is based on baby-led weaning, a practice especially popular in the UK. Both methods start babies on solid finger foods immediately, skipping the transitional purée-only phase. But although baby-led weaning has many advantages, it’s often practiced strictly. Adherents of baby-led weaning sometimes claim that a parent has failed if their child ingests a single bite of purée. “There’s not a lot of room for flexibility on the part of the parent,” Helwig, whose previous books include Real Baby Food and Smoothie-Licious, says.

Baby-led feeding, on the other hand, is designed to be adaptable. It’s a blended approach, emphasizing solid finger foods like baby-led weaning, but allowing parents to be flexible by supplementing their baby’s diet with purées. “Some babies have different needs—they might need a little extra nutrition or they might not be great at picking up finger foods yet, so purées can be helpful,” Helwig explains. Unlike baby-led weaning, baby-led feeding allows parents to give purées without feeling guilty about breaking the method’s rules. (The name change also avoids linguistic confusion—”weaning” means different things in the US and the UK).

What are the benefits for babies?

Because it offers them exciting new tastes and (especially as they get older) a variety of textures, baby-led feeding encourages babies to explore food and, most of all, to enjoy it. “Eating should really be a very tactile, fun, exploratory process for babies,” Helwig explains. “They learn so much about the world from smushing their fingers through sweet potatoes or, unfortunately for parents, sometimes smearing things on a tray.”

If giving your baby finger foods seems dauntingly messy, consider that it may make your life easier in the long run. Because baby-led feeding accustoms babies to a wide variety of foods early on, it can make them less fussy about food later. “You can also think of baby-led feeding as a little bit of insurance against pickiness. There are no guarantees, but more likely than not it’s going to help babies become more accepting of a wider variety of foods,” Helwig explains. Although Helwig didn’t try baby-led feeding with her own daughter (who will be 12 in March), she hears from parents with multiple kids that their more adventurous eaters are the ones who started on solid foods earlier.

Baby-led feeding can also be a great way to get babies involved in family dinners earlier by giving them a baby-friendly variation on adult food. With this in mind, Helwig designed many of her recipes to appeal to eaters of all ages, with one small exception. Babies can’t have salt until they’re about a year old, so Helwig provides instructions for adding it separately. The lack of salt added an extra wrinkle in creating the recipes, Helwig notes. “Sometimes I would taste some of the baby food recipes and I’d go: ‘Wait a minute, this should be delicious!’ And then I’m like, ‘Oh it needs salt.’ But a baby will think it’s delicious.”

Baby-led feeding also helps babies become attuned to their own hunger cues. They determine when they’ve eaten enough (that’s why it’s baby-led feeding). Helwig encourages parents to pay close attention to their child and stop feeding their babies when they start turning away or throwing food on the floor. “It’s about being responsive to your baby,” she says. This means no pushing the spoon into the baby’s mouth when they’re distracted, no forcing the baby to eat just one more bite, and definitely no airplane noises. But parents shouldn’t worry that their babies won’t eat enough. “We can rely on babies to eat as much as they need if we’re offering this food and they have the skills to eat it,” Helwig says. “They are learning to be responsive to their own hunger cues, and when they’re full they’re not going to eat anymore.”

 

How do I know it’s safe for my baby?

There are legitimate concerns that, because babies are just starting to feed themselves, they won’t get the right nutrition. But that’s where supplemental purées come in handy—they can help fill nutritional gaps. And as long as parents are paying attention to the kinds of foods they’re feeding their baby, there shouldn’t be an issue, Helwig says. “It can be really easy to just give fruits or vegetables or grainy, carby things, but it’s important to that parents offer babies proteins and healthy fats.” She suggests hard-boiled eggs, omelets, or “even little meatballs!”

Parents have also expressed concern about the choking hazard solid foods can present. “But as long as things are the right size and shape and texture,” Helwig says, “then it can be safe. For sure.” She spends a great deal of time in Baby-Led Feeding discussing how to properly cut and cook food so babies can easily eat it, and each recipe is reviewed by pediatric dietitian Natalia Stasenko to make sure it’s safe and healthy.

Helwig also reassures parents worried about the extra effort required to prepare finger foods instead of purées. “Oftentimes you can just cut up fruits and vegetables and lightly cook them, or even cut up what the family is eating, so there doesn’t have to be a whole lot of extra cooking,” she says, adding, “By giving [babies] these finger foods, we’re training them to be able to feed themselves, which is a huge benefit to busy parents because they don’t have to literally put a spoon into their baby’s mouth every few seconds.” She also emphasizes the adaptability of baby-led feeding. Even parents who want to rely primarily on purées can still reap the benefits by including finger foods with just one meal a day so babies can experience new tastes and textures. “Think about it even as play time,” she says. “If they eat it, great, if not, they’re still exploring and having fun.”

Regardless of the method, Helwig wants to help parents introduce babies to the wide world of food in ways that will encourage them as future eaters. “To me, food and eating is really one of the best parts of life, and I want to help other people experience that even from the very earliest age,” she says.

For more information on her baby-feeding philosophy, visit jennahelwig.com!

Baby2Body Founder Melinda Nicci’s Fitness & Wellness Rules

Baby2Body Founder Melinda Nicci’s Fitness & Wellness Rules

Baby2Body founder & CEO Melinda Nicci

Trying to live healthily can turn into a full time job when we start aiming for extremes of exercise or dieting, and when we put those lofty goals on ourselves it makes it hard to stay motivated. Making healthier choices doesn’t have to mean a radical lifestyle change though! Sure, there will be days when it’s tough to squeeze a workout in or pass on that sugary snack, but healthy habits shouldn’t feel make you feel bad or restricted, they should make you feel so good. It’s all about finding the balance and making small, manageable choices every day that you can feel better about. Here’s the secret – when you start making small changes towards a healthier life, your body and mind will feel better, and wanting to keep that feeling going will be your best motivation.

When we look at that bigger picture of healthy living we have to think of fitness, nutrition, our psychological well-being, and our self-esteem. Everything we experience is interconnected – our moods affect our motivation, what we eat mediates our energy levels, how active we are has a direct impact on body image and self-esteem, and how we feel about ourselves shapes our outlook on life. But you don’t have to be a fitness fanatic, nutrition nut, and well-being guru all wrapped up in one. It’s OK to have one healthy living preference that drives you as long as you’re aiming for balance overall.

For me, physical fitness is my primary motivator and it’s what makes me feel my best. I was the mom who picked her kids up from school in trainers, leggings, a sports top and my hair pulled up in a ponytail – and this was before athleisure was en vogue. But it was never something I was ashamed of. My physical health was (and still is) something I’m proud of and something that’s very important to me, and I wanted my kids to see that. In their own ways, they have followed in my footsteps of optimizing health; from staying active, to eating well, and tending to their emotional well-being. That’s the real answer to healthy living – finding a sustainable balance in all aspects of your life.

When I started Baby2Body I wanted to make sure that we covered that entire healthy lifestyle experience, which is why we cover topics wellbeing, fitness, nutrition, and beauty. So, in the spirit of finding a beautiful balance, I want to share my top tips for living a healthier, more balanced life.

Fitness: My mantra is repeat, reassure, refresh. Consistency is key when it comes to an exercise routine, and the best way to start is with smaller workouts that you can do every single day. Not only will you form habits faster this way, you’ll feel amazing for it because you’ll be able to achieve those fitness goals. Next, make sure to recognize those achievements, because building your own confidence in yourself goes a long way. Lastly, make the most of your refresh step – from healthy hydration, to eating right, to getting enough rest and stretching properly. You’ll enjoy exercise more because you’ll be treating your body right from start to finish.

Well-Being: Practice some tunnel vision. I’m sure you’ve heard the quote “Comparison is the thief of joy”, and it couldn’t be truer, especially in the age of social media. Resist the temptation to compare yourself to what other mothers or parents are doing, and trust that you are doing it right. Going at your own pace and recognizing milestones you reach means that you can be genuinely happy with your own achievements, rather than worrying that you’re falling short.

Food: Listen to your body. It knows best. Pay attention to how it reacts to certain foods and how you feel after eating. It will tell you a lot about what is good for you, and what’s not. You’ll quickly find out that cleaner, unprocessed food choices make you feel happier and more energized – making it easier to skip the crisps and reach for more fruit and veg. By listening to your body you’ll also learn a lot about what works for your individual digestive system. “Healthy” food isn’t healthy for you if it doesn’t agree with your gut, so prioritize food that treats you well.

Beauty: Make time for your routine. There’s nothing vain about tending to your beauty routine, especially if it makes you feel incredible. Beauty habits can play a really important role in maintaining your sense of identity, which is important for busy moms. It doesn’t matter what your fashion, or skincare, or makeup routine is, it’s all about taking that time for yourself to look and feel the way you want to. Self-care is self-love!

Melinda Nicci is the founder and CEO of Baby2Body, a Sport Psychologist, and professional pre- and post-natal fitness trainer. Melinda is passionate about health and wellness, travel, art, and photography, and loves spending her free time with her two children and exercising outdoors, when the London weather permits! Learn more about her at baby2body.com!

 

Sleepea: The Last Baby Swaddle You’ll Ever Buy

Happiest Baby

Sleepea, the new swaddle from Happiest Baby, “takes all the origami” out of swaddling and makes it simple. Dr. Harvey Karp, author of The Happiest Baby on the Block and more, is taking his 5 S’s and putting them to action with this new product.

The 5 S’s entail swaddling, side or stomach position (to calm a fussy baby), shush (not necessarily meaning quiet, but using calming sounds), swing, and suck. You can read more about each step here.

“If you imitate the womb, you’re able to flip on the switch called the calming reflex, which is kind of almost an off switch for crying and an on switch for sleeping,” Karp says.

Sleepea builds upon Dr. Karp’s extensive studies into babies’ sleeping patterns. The swaddle is designed to make swaddling a five-second affair. An inner band keeps the baby’s arms at its sides, and two mesh sections—one at the top and one at the hips—ensure the baby doesn’t overheat and helps parents ensure the hips are in the right position. The Sleepea can also be unzipped without undoing the swaddle, making for easy diaper changes, and is made with quiet Velcro and from organic cotton.

Happiest Baby

“Parents get very confused about swaddling and they go, ‘Well, my baby doesn’t like it, or my baby wants their hands free,’ and what I like to tell parents is that your baby doesn’t get a vote yet,” Karp says. “They don’t know what’s best for them. We’re overly urgent to what we think the baby wants, but the baby doesn’t know.”

And what do babies need? Karp says the swaddle keeps their world small as it was in the womb, and that’s what comforts them, whether or not they take to it immediately. The effectiveness of the swaddle is also a huge part of how the baby responds. The Sleepea takes too-loose or improperly executed swaddles out of the equation.

The Sleepea is available in graphite, sky, rose, and teal. For more information on Sleepea and Happiest Baby’s other products, head to happiestbaby.com!

Does What You Eat Really Affect Your Breast Milk?

As a family physician, each day I am often asked by new moms what supplements they should take now that they are nursing, and if what they eat affects the quality of their milk. The answer is, yes!

For mothers who can and choose to breastfeed, there are certain vitamins and minerals that are correlated with the mother’s dietary intake. There’s so much we’re learning about how breast milk is correlated to a baby’s immune system, gut health and protection from allergic diseases (e.g. food allergies, seasonal allergies, and eczema). Long term, breast milk has been shown to prevent obesity and potentially increase intelligence. Mothers now have the opportunity to optimize their diet and supplements, increase the nutritional value of their breast milk and maximize the benefit to their children.

I am a family physician, educator, and mother-of-two that breastfed both of her children. It was only when I was trying to juggle the challenges of a full time medical practice, being on call and worrying that my daughter was not gaining enough weight despite drinking a good enough volume of breast milk that I started to ask myself what was in MY milk.

The idea of women wanting to know what is in their milk is not new. In 1978, a method called “creamatocrit” was developed. This was a way of approximating how much fat and therefore calories were in a breast milk sample, based on the size of the fatty layer of milk after it was spun down in a centrifuge machine. It was rudimentary and could not, however, measure the levels of vitamins or toxins in breast milk.

In nearly 40 years, little advancement in breast milk testing was achieved, so I decided to use the academic resources available to me, consult with my colleagues and develop a unique, comprehensive set of tests specifically for breast milk.  I spent over a year working with top chemists to develop a simple, at-home breast milk test to empower moms with nutritional information such as fat and calories, vitamin and mineral content and even whether their breast milk contained potentially toxic substances such as arsenic or mercury.

Because of its influence on infant growth and neurological development, we have seen a growing appreciation of the importance of promoting and supporting breastfeeding. Recent research shows that the nutritional value of breast milk is linked to maternal diet. This is particularly true of omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids such as DHA. They are called “essential”  as our body doesn’t make them and they must be obtained through food. we need to eat them. Our body cannot synthesize omega-3 and 6 fatty acids such as DHA, ALA, ARA and LA. They must be consumed in our diet. DHA in breast milk has been shown to be important for neurodevelopment, has been associated with lower rates of asthma, allergies and have even been associated with higher levels of intelligence.

A study in South Dakota showed how moms could increase the levels of essential fatty acids in their breast milk with simple dietary changes. Women had their breast milk samples individually tested for DHA levels and were provided individualized dietary recommendations. For some, this meant adding more foods that are rich in DHA and for others, DHA supplements were recommended. Women who complied with the recommendations were found to have higher levels of DHA in their breast milk.

Fish is the main dietary source of omega-3 fatty acids, but due to concerns about mercury contamination, pregnant and breastfeeding moms are advised to eat fish no more than 2-3 meals per week. Certain types of fish, such as swordfish, mackerel and some types of tuna, that should be avoided altogether when nursing.

Research has also shown that a mother’s consumption of the following vitamins and nutrients directly affects levels in her breast milk:

  • Vitamin A, which is important for vision, skin and skeletal growth. Vegetables that are rich in organic colors are also rich in Vitamin A. These include carrots, sweet potatoes, and orange peppers, for example. Dietary sources of Vitamin A include liver from any animal, egg yolks, sweet potatoes, carrots, and squash.
  • Vitamin B6, which can be found in turkey, pork, pistachio nuts, sunflower seeds, fish, and dried fruits.
  • Vitamin B12, which is found in chicken livers, clams, crab, fortified cereals, some milk and yogurt.
  • Vitamin C, whose sources include citrus, dark leafy greens, strawberries, and melons.
  • Calcium, which is present in dairy and green leafy vegetables.

There are, however, nutrients with no apparent were no correlation between a mother’s level and that in her breast milk was found, or no definitive link has yet been proven. For example, some iron has been controversial. Some  studies have linked the level of iron in breast milk  it to increased levels in maternal diet, while others have not. Although it is recommended that a lactating woman consume 9-10 mg of iron a day, it is unclear how much this should increase when nursing. Studies were inconclusive because they failed to control for the amount of blood loss and changes in maternal iron stores after delivery.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a universal supplement of 1 mg/kg of iron and 400 IU of Vitamin D per day for breastfed infants. Many others and doctors I know don’t necessarily carry out this recommendation as the iron supplements can be difficult for a newborn to digest and many mothers believe can increase gas and fussiness. It is suggested that all infants be screened for anemia by 12 months of age. Vitamin D is universally low across milk of all species.

As a scientist and physician, I’m enthusiastic about the growing research around the incredible power of breast milk and our ability to enhance its nutritional quality through our lifestyle choices. I am proud to offer a test that will empower women to optimize their child’s health.

To learn more, visit lactationlab.com!

Dr. Stephanie Canale earned her undergraduate and medical degrees from McGill University. She completed her residency training in Family Medicine at UCLA. After medical residency, she joined the teaching faculty at the UCLA Family Health Center, before joining the Santa Monica Parkside office. She enjoys seeing patients of all ages, especially families with young babies. Dr. Canale is a Member of the American Board of Family Medicine.

 

First Smart Car Seat: CYBEX’s Sirona M With SensorSafe 2.0

First Smart Car Seat: CYBEX’s Sirona M With SensorSafe 2.0

CYBEX is known for their safety, design, and functionality of their car seats, strollers, and baby carriers. Now, the company is launching their first-ever “smart” car seat, the Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0. With safety being the most important factor, this car seat integrates the SensorSafe 2.0 technology into the chest clip to alert parents when potentially unsafe situations occur. Parents can download an app that connects to the child’s seat and sends notifications when it senses a child has been left behind, if the chest clip comes unbuckled, the temperature of the vehicle, and if the child has been sitting in the seat for too long.

Other features include the L.S.P. System that absorbs 25 percent more impact forces in the event of a side impact, an energy-absorbing shell, 12-position height-adjustable headrest, 10-position reclining backrest, and a one-pull latch removal.  This highly intuitive and safe seat comes in various colors: Pepper Black, Manhattan Grey, Lavastone Black, and Denim Blue.

The Sirona M with SensorSafe 2.0 is selling for $329 on multiple online retail stores.

To find out more about this car seat of the future, go to cybex-online.com/us. 

 

Back To Work After Baby? Try These Pumping Tips

Back To Work After Baby? Try These Pumping Tips

It has been said many times over and most mothers who nurse would agree that there is no better breast pump than baby! From my experience, there appears to be a growing proportion of women who choose to pump milk from the outset. Some women either have difficulty with latching, have nipple issues or simply prefer to pump.

Here are a few tips I would like to share as a physician, mother, and “master pumper!”

  • It is necessary to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day, and I would recommend hydrating on the way to work, having a water bottle close by at your desk, and keeping a few around the house to always have one handy. In order to keep up your milk supply, it is also important to to eat and drink often and consume in excess of 500 calories more per day than usual.
  • I recommend investing in an automated pump. There are both manual and automated pumps on the market. A manual pump can take quite a bit of time but is useful for blocked ducts and during times of breast engorgement.
  • When using a manual pump I recommend massaging the breast with the free hand from the outer most areas to the nipple and continuing in a circular manner in order to massage the entire breast.
  • Manual pumps vary in speed, attachments, size and weight. Before trying a pump it is thought to know if you will choose the right one. It is most important to know that we all have nipples of different sizes and choosing a pump that allows for physical variability is important. It is not one pump fits all!

It is a good idea to consult a lactation specialist or postpartum nurse and ask about nipple attachments and fitting of cups. A good pump should allow you to empty the breast with ease. It should not be painful to pump.

I do recommend consulting with a lactation specialist if you are having difficulty with pumping and for some renting a hospital grade pump may be the short-term answer. A hospital grade pump has a larger more powerful suction.

Consider spare parts so that you always have a dry set ready to go. Some women enjoy the hands free pumping bra while others get the hang of holding both cups with one hand. Making sure that the cup is the right size to avoid nipple injury is also key. Fluctuating the pump between a continuous and alternating method will also help extract more milk.

  • For women that have a long commute to work I recommend the following as a template or sample schedule:
    • On waking, nurse or pump at home
    • Pump in the car on the way to work (key for women who have a long commute, but please be safe in the car!)
    • Pump 1-3 times at work if possible, and consider blocking time on your calendar as you would block out a work meeting so you can protect your time
    • Pump again on the way home
    • Nurse or pump before bedtime
  • I also suggest investing in good storage bags and making sure they are sealed and lying flat to maximize storage space in the freezer, and recommend freezing some bags of milk in 1 oz increments so that you can have small amounts of milk as needed to “top off” feeds. Make storing milk as easy as possible. Some women choose to invest in a small fridge/ freezer for their office or simply buying a few insulated bags will work. I would always keep a spare insulated storage bag and spare bottles to pump into in the car in case they are forgotten.

To learn more, visit lactationlab.com!

Dr. Stephanie Canale earned her undergraduate and medical degrees from McGill University. She completed her residency training in Family Medicine at UCLA. After medical residency, she joined the teaching faculty at the UCLA Family Health Center, before joining the Santa Monica Parkside office. She enjoys seeing patients of all ages, especially families with young babies. Dr. Canale is a Member of the American Board of Family Medicine.

Hot New Stroller: The 180 Reversible From Ergobaby

Hot New Stroller: The 180 Reversible From Ergobaby

Ergobaby is a brand widely known by the parenting world for its ergonomic design and comfort in baby carriers, swaddlers, and pillows. Now the brand has taken its next step, releasing their very first stroller, which hit the market this week: The Ergobaby 180 Reversible Stroller!

The stroller was designed from real-life input from new and expecting parents all over the country, incorporating must-have features. This full featured, lightweight (just under 20 lbs) stroller comes complete with a slate of premium features, including a handlebar design that allows the parent to easily switch the stroller seat position without disturbing baby, so baby can face the parent or face the world in one simple step. Baby also gets the ultimate in comfort with elements such as the luscious seat recline and the tri-zone padded seat.

Presently, the stroller is available at exclusively at buybuy BABY for now, and retails for $399.99!

To learn more about this out-of-this-world stroller, visit Ergobaby.com

The Intersection Of Childbirth & Consent

We are at an interesting point in time regarding how women are being viewed and treated. A dark and heavy curtain is being drawn back, and many violent, belittling, and humiliating acts of sexual assault and harassment are coming to light. Both the political arena and entertainment industry are erupting with allegations and shame, and careers are being lost.

Now is the time to focus on removing violations of uninformed consent on women during pregnancy and birth. When women are not involved in making decisions about their bodies, when they are made to feel insignificant, and their autonomy is taken away, they are at greater risk for depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Sadly, this happens to women on a daily basis during the process of giving birth.

Childbirth can be empowering and inspiring or it can be emotionally and physically scarring, depending on how the mother is made to feel during birth. While the birth does may not unfold exactly how the mother may have imagined it, but needs to feel significant, heard, and seen.

Western medicine, unfortunately, is often a patriarchal establishment in which pregnant and birthing women are seen as sick and negligible. One study reported that one out of every three births can lead mothers to psychological birth trauma. Women have used phrases such as “barbaric,” “inhumane,” “intrusive,” “horrific,” and “degrading” to describe the mistreatment they received from health care professionals.

One way to help alleviate the perceived mistreatment from health care providers is to practice informed consent: involving women in the decision-making during their birth and encouraging them to further educate themselves to them make informed decisions.

According the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), informed consent is “the willing acceptance of a medical intervention by a patient after adequate disclosure by the physician of the nature of the intervention with its risks and benefits and of the alternatives with their risks and benefits.”

While ACOG may encourage care providers to explain the risks and benefits of interventions, Listening to Mothers III, a national survey of American women who gave birth in U.S. hospitals, exposes the reality. The mothers involved in this survey had little knowledge of the impact of the medical interventions they received. For example, those who had received a cesarean were no more likely to correctly indicate the increased likelihood of future placental problems after cesarean than mothers who had not, and mothers who had had a cesarean were much more likely than those with a vaginal birth to incorrectly agree that a Cesarean lowers the likelihood of newborn breathing problems. Without a proper working knowledge of the pros and cons of these procedures, women simply cannot make informed, educated choices that directly impact their health, the health of their babies, and future pregnancies.

It is significant to note that the ACOG Committee of Ethics also stresses the importance of recognizing the mother’s autonomy and involvement in decision-making, and the necessity of clearly communicating with the patient in order to to ensure her protection against unwanted medical treatment.

With these guidelines in place, why are women still not receiving better communication and joint decision making? According to the Listening To Mothers III survey, more than half the women who received an episiotomy (the invasive procedure of surgically cutting the perineum, the muscles between the vaginal opening and the anus) did not consent to the procedure. This is just one of many examples of involuntary or unconsented medical procedures women have endured during childbirth.

How can we shift this pattern and give birth back to women? Change will happen when women demand better and clearer communication from their health care providers and hold them accountable for their responsibilities clearly outlined by ACOG. Recently, there has been an increase in legal action against hospitals and care providers for obstetric violence, defined as “the appropriation of a woman’s body and reproductive processes by health personnel, in the form of dehumanizing treatment, abusive medicalization and pathologization of natural processes, involving a woman’s loss of autonomy and of the capacity to freely make her own decisions about her body and her sexuality, which has negative consequences for a woman’s quality of life.”

Obstetric violence is not new but the movement against it is finally gaining recognition and momentum. In the past, few women were able to go up against the medical establishment and win these types of case. It is a sign of progress that an increasing number of women are presenting their cases and being compensated for their suffering.

Having an empowered birth team to keep open communication with the care provider during the birth is also extremely important. The birth team can negotiate and advocate for the laboring mom so she can concentrate on the rhythm and surrender of birth.

Carefully choosing a care provider can also result in better birth outcomes. If the mother feels rushed through her appointments or leaves with unanswered questions, it is often a good predictor of what she can expect during delivery. While care providers may want to be transparent and forthcoming with information, too many patients and appointments leave little time for thorough communication. If women are unsatisfied with the care they are receiving, they should switch practices. A lack of clients may prove to the care providers that they need to change their ways and attitudes.

The suffering many women have experienced during childbirth leaves a deep mark on society as a whole, but as we start to reckon with the reality of mass sexual assault and harassment, perhaps this shift will also start to be reflected in maternity care and in the general respect women deserve and demand.

From ACOG’s Committee of Ethics:

  1. Obtaining informed consent for medical treatment, for participation in medical research, and for participation in teaching exercises involving students and residents is an ethical requirement that is partially reflected in legal doctrines and requirements.
  2. Seeking informed consent expresses respect for the patient as a person; it particularly respects a patient’s moral right to bodily integrity, to self-determination regarding sexuality and reproductive capacities, and to support of the patient’s freedom to make decisions within caring relationships.
  3. Informed consent not only ensures the protection of the patient against unwanted medical treatment, but it also makes possible the patient’s active involvement in her medical planning and care.
  4. Communication is necessary if informed consent is to be realized, and physicians can and should help to find ways to facilitate communication not only in individual relations with patients but also in the structured context of medical care institutions.
  5. Informed consent should be looked on as a process rather than a signature on a form. This process includes a mutual sharing of information over time between the clinician and the patient to facilitate the patient’s autonomy in the process of making ongoing choices.
  6. The ethical requirement to seek informed consent need not conflict with physicians’ overall ethical obligation of beneficence; that is, physicians should make every effort to incorporate a commitment to informed consent within a commitment to provide medical benefit to patients and, thus, to respect them as whole and embodied persons.
  7. When informed consent by the patient is impossible, a surrogate decision maker should be identified to represent the patient’s wishes or best interests. In emergency situations, medical professionals may have to act according to their perceptions of the best interests of the patient; in rare instances, they may have to forgo obtaining consent because of some other overriding ethical obligation, such as protecting the public health.
  8. Because ethical requirements and legal requirements cannot be equated, physicians also should acquaint themselves with federal and state legal requirements for informed consent. Physicians also should be aware of the policies within their own practices because these may vary from institution to institution.

Debra Flashenberg is the founder and Director of the Prenatal Yoga Center. She is a certified labor support doula, Lamaze Childbirth Educator, and certified prenatal yoga instructor. She is continuously in awe of the beauty and brilliance of birth and is the proud mother of her son, Shay and daughter, Sage. Visit prenatalyogacenter.com for more info!

Blogger Favorites From The 2017 LA Baby Show

Blogger Favorites From The 2017 LA Baby Show

We are pleased to present our first-annual Blogger Favorites list from the 2017 LA Baby Show! This year, the Show was attended by over 80 bloggers from the pregnancy, baby, toddler, and family space. The bloggers in attendance were asked to share favorite products that they posted about on their websites and across their social media channels. The following five products are the items from the Show that stood out as notable favorites among bloggers who attended and posted about the Show!

The 2017 LA Baby Show took place on November 4-5, 2017, at the Magic Box at the REEF, introducing thousands of new and expectant parents to a variety of products and services in the baby and maternity realms. The largest consumer event in the country for expectant and new parents, the annual Chicago Baby Show is a joint effort of Family Media and the Juvenile Products Manufacturers Association (JPMA), who are producing a series of Baby Shows in large metropolitan areas through out the country.

BLOGGER FAVORITES

Britax B Free Stroller

Just launched earlier this month, the B-Free Stroller makes family life easy and convenient. With seven storage pockets and an extra-large storage basket, this stroller offers tons of room for storage. The canopy extends to protect your baby from the sun, and 3-wheel configuration provides ultimate maneuverability. britax.com

Ju-Ju-Be Diaper Bags

Ju-Ju-Be’s diaper bags continue to be super-popular with bloggers and parents alike. They offer a wide range of sizes and styles, so it’s easy to find the perfect diaper bag for your lifestyle and budget. Not to mention the fact that they’re famous for the super-cool original prints and collaborations. Show here is the popular BFF Bag (which features a memory foam changing pad, optional shoulder straps, AgION Antimicrobial linings, crumb drains, and a pocket for every item you could imagine) in the tokipops print from the tokidoki x Ju-Ju-Be collection. shop.ju-ju-be.com

Lil’ Jammerz

Lil’ Jammerz is a trio of lovable plush toys that fit perfectly on most infant car seats, strollers or carriers, streaming music and soothing sounds via Bluetooth technology, from any Bluetooth enabled device. Mom or dad can play internet radio, a personal music library or through a pre-programmed play list available through the freeLil’ Jammerz app. Lil’ Jammerz encourages a baby’s natural fascination with music to stimulate development, boost language skills and strengthen the relationship between a parent and child. liljammerz.com

Pura Stainless Bottles

Pura offers the only 100 percent plastic-free and MADESAFE.org NonToxic-Certified bottle line for the entire family. In addition, they offer the only bottles that grow with, and adapt to, your child. Their infant bottle (the Kiki) can become a sippy cup with Pura’s sip spout, a straw cup with their industry leading 100 percent plastic-free straw, a water bottle with Pura’s silicone Big Mouth sport top, and even a snack container with their flat cap! In short, they offer families a bottle that’s environmentally sound, non-toxic, and that grows easily with your child from baby to toddler to older child! purastainless.com

Ring is a smart home security company designed to protect your home and your family. The Ring Video Doorbell and Security Cams allow you to see, hear, and speak to visitors at your home from your PC, phone, or tablet from anywhere. Additionally, Ring’s app and “neighborhoods” feature lets you share videos and comments with your neighborhood. They also pride themselves on the work they do with police to help solves crimes using Ring video doorbells as evidence. ring.com

Our bloggers included: Awestruck, The Ballinger Family, Beauty Momme, Bel Air Mommy, Orly Campbell, Christy Carlson Romano, Chic Bump Club, Dr Elise Cohen Ho, Dazzling Daily DealsNikki Diaz, Expressing Motherhood, Fave Mom, Gone with the Twins, Happy Baby LA, Happy Mess Moments, HauteMoms Life, House of Lafond, Jules Happens, Mrs Kathy King, L’Empereur MagazineKinda Silly Mommy, Land of Mom, Liam’s Life, Living Notes, Lovestalgia, Macaroni Kid – Pasadena, Mama Needs A Shower, The Memoirs of a Mommy, Mini Mama, MomAngeles, The Mom Buster, Mom.me, Mommy Train, MomTogether, Our Ordinary Life, Rockin’ Mama Life, SamSoMuch, Sarah Mommy Life Blogs, Seasonal Memories, Silicon Beach Parents Group, Single Moms Planet, South Bay Mommies and Daddies, Sweet P and Sky, Unicorn Moms, Valentina’s Playhouse, Video Baby Books, and more!