Helpful Tips for New or Expecting Parents

Here are few tips that all new/expecting parents will want to learn.

Get Enough Folic Acid

Experts recommend that women who are anticipating becoming pregnant, and women who are pregnant, take special care to have sufficient folic acid in their diet. According to the March of Dimes, “folic acid, a B vitamin, helps prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord when taken very early in pregnancy. It is available in most multivitamins, as a folic acid-only supplement and in some foods.” See your doctor to make sure you’re getting enough of this important vitamin.

Home Uterine Monitors Not Useful for Predicting Premature Birth

A study by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) reports that “portable monitors that detect contractions of the uterus do not appear to be useful for identifying women likely to have a preterm delivery.” Although widely prescribed for high-risk pregnancies, the study confirmed that uterine monitors — and several other methods — were of little value in predicting premature birth.

Be on the Lookout for Postpartum Depression

Both men and women are at risk for depression following the birth of a baby, and women also have hormonal changes and self-image issues to deal with. Don’t think you’re immune — experts believe that 1 in 10 women suffer from PPD, and that most don’t get the help they need.

Please don’t think that having depression means you’re weak, or that it’s something you have to hide or just tough your way through. Instead, be prepared. Before the baby is born, both men and women should obtain information on postpartum depression and read up on it. Most women don’t realize they’re suffering from postpartum depression until it gets to a crisis stage.

FDA Food Advisories

Don’t expect that a food advisory from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration means your grocery store will pull the food off the shelves. Food advisories often are a buyer-beware proposition. For example, the FDA warned in January 2001, that pregnant women and small children should avoid eating shark, swordfish, king mackerel, tilefish, soft cheeses, cold cuts — and also take care eating freshwater fish, hot dogs, and tuna. Why? Too much mercury in the fish, and listeria problems in the cold cuts and soft cheeses. See a 2002 CNN report on possible effects of too much tuna on developing fetuses. But grocery stores still sell the products with no indication of advisories.

We asked one chain about this and were told that unless the FDA advisory specifically said to pull the product, the product would be sold as usual. Our suggestion? Make the U.S. Food and Drug Administration a favorite site, and visit it often. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is another good site to bookmark – this particular page offers guidance on which states have a mercury advisory on freshwater fish.

Cat litter

If you’re pregnant, be alert to bacteria that can infect your cat’s feces and harm your unborn child. Check with your veterinarian. There is a test that can be conducted on your cat to see if the cat’s already infected. You may want to find another home for it for the duration of your pregnancy. Your veterinarian will have other suggestions for keeping yourself safe.

Tap Water Concerns

Two environmental groups are issuing warnings to pregnant women about tap water. The Environmental Working Group and Public Interest Research Groups warn that millions of Americans drink tap water that’s contaminated with a level of chemical byproducts that’s far greater than what research says is safe for pregnant women. When chlorine is added to drinking water to disinfect it — and it comes into contact with organic matter — it can form compounds that can cause illness. Pregnant women who drink water contaminated with such compounds can suffer miscarriages or birth defects, the groups say.

Pregnant Women Should Avoid Taking the Acne Drug Accutane

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has renewed warnings to women to avoid taking the acne drug Accutane while pregnant. When taken by pregnant women, Accutane can cause serious brain, heart and facial defects in fetuses.

Things to Avoid During Your Pregnancy

During pregnancy, there’re things you have to avoid in order to keep the health of yourself. Things such as:

  • changing cat litter;
  • ingestion of addictive drugs or alcohol;
  • hot tubs, hot baths or saunas;
  • donating blood;
  • tanning beds;
  • x-rays;
  • certain herbal remedies (check with your doctor);
  • raw or poorly cooked meat, fish or eggs;
  • unpasteurized soft cheeses such as feta or brie; strong chemical fumes such as dry-cleaning chemicals, paint or polyurethane;
  • certain aromatherapy oils;
  • sitting for long periods of time (can cause edema or blood clots);
  • flying in an airplane after a certain point (check with your doctor);
  • certain prescription or over-the-counter medications (check with your doctor);
  • exercises that require holding your breath or lying on your back;
  • heavy lifting;
  • certain athletic activities that could entail falling, such as skiing, horseback riding, gymnastics (check with your doctor);
  • athletic activities that require sudden stops and starts, such as tennis or racquetball (your bones, joints and muscles are more susceptible to injury while you’re pregnant).

Get Tested for STDs

Make sure you get tested for sexually transmitted diseases before giving birth. You may have an STD and not realize it. Many symptoms are subtle, or not evident in some women. If you are infected with an STD, and proper precautions are not taken, your baby is at high risk of contracting the disease.

Try Swimming

If you’re having a tough time staying in shape while pregnant, consider swimming. The water supports a pregnant woman’s belly, and she can exercise without putting much strain on her muscles and joints. Talk to your doctor and see if swimming is the right choice for you. Worried about your blossoming physique in a bathing suit? There are many attractive suits out there for pregnant women, and most women in the showers will be filled with admiration for you and your beautiful belly.

Call baby-food companies and baby item manufacturers and ask for coupons

Most of them are eager to give you coupons to encourage you to buy their products. Just give them a call or visit their Web sites.

Make a Computerized Grocery Shopping List for Your Partner

If you’re pregnant and worried about how the groceries will be handled when the baby’s born, consider making a list for your partner beforehand (more easily done, accessed and updated if done on the computer). Write down all the things you generally buy (sizes, brands, fragrances, types) in two or three columns on a single page. Then just print off a page and cross off the things you don’t need.

Have Baby’s Hearing Checked

Make sure your newborn’s hearing gets checked properly – not just with a ringing bell, but perhaps with an ABR test (auditory brain-stem response) or an otoacoustic emissions test (OAE) before three months of age. (This is not mandatory in many states – and many hospitals don’t have the requisite screening programs in place). You might have to fight for the test. But if your child has a hearing problem, it will be worth it. Researchers say that children whose hearing impairment is detected before six months of age tend to develop significantly better language skills than do children who are diagnosed later.

Have Your Newborn Checked for Jaundice

Jaundice is re-emerging as a danger to newborns. About 60 percent of newborns develop jaundice, characterized by yellow pigment to the skin, caused when bilirubin builds up faster than the baby’s liver can break it down and get rid of it. Usually jaundice goes away on its own, and if it doesn’t, it’s easily treated, leaving no lasting effect. But sometimes jaundice doesn’t get diagnosed fast enough and ends up causing brain damage to the baby. Additionally, early release from the hospital is implicated in some cases.

When One Parent is Cold and the Other Parent is Hot

After giving birth, many women experience a period during which they feel cold all of the time. Men, however, tend to remain warmer than their partners. If you have this problem, and it causes a problem when you go to bed, consider buying an electric blanket that has dual controls. One side can be turned off while the other side is on.

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