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‘There’s no trophy in parenting’ post goes viral

There’s no trophy in parenting.

That might seem like an obvious statement but if there really is no trophy, why do moms do so many things they may not even feel strongly about?

When Ashley Gibson was giving birth to her third child, she “wasn’t dead set” on having an non-medicated birth.

But as the pain progressed and Gibson debated whether an epidural was the right decision, her husband Brandon said four simple words.

“There’s no trophy Ashley.”

His sage wisdom has since gone viral with thousands of views and comments. 

Tips for cooking with babies or toddlers (or other cranky kids) underfoot

I had been a parent for about 5 minutes when I completely understood why they call the hour before dinner the “Toxic Hour.” Everyone is hungry. And tired. And cranky—including me. Can I see a show of hands if you cooked dinner last night with one hand while you balanced a fussy kid on your hip? Or shuffled around your kitchen with one clutching your leg?

With just a teensy bit of planning, you can avoid mealtime meltdowns for babies, toddlers, preschoolers, and other hungry kids. Here are some tricks to get dinner on the table faster and with less tears all around:

1) Start meal prep EARLY if you can. Chop, measure out ingredients, set out the stuff you’ll need. Even just setting the pot of water on the stove to start later for pasta is so much easier to do at naptime then with a baby clutching your leg. Also, crockpot cooking is fabulous.

2) Have a baby-safe cabinet that is only available when you are in the kitchen. A collection of pots, plastic bowls and wooden spoons make a great toy box. If it is only available (unlocked) during meal prep or cleanup, it will likely last longer as a distraction. Alternately, a box you can pull out of a cabinet or closet works, too.

3) Put your toddler’s play kitchen in or near the kitchen. Narrate what you are doing and ask them questions about what they are doing. Taste their creations and have them taste yours. This is also a great idea if you have a kid who is cautious about new foods. It gives them some input to the meal when mom says, ‘Do you think this needs more seasoning?’

4) This may be the time of day you bribe, er—ask–an older child to play with the baby. It helps if they play in the baby’s room and not in a room right off the kitchen. My older kids were afraid they would be on ‘baby duty’ forever, so I set the timer for 10-20 minutes, depending on the age of my older kid. A neighborhood kid can do the same job and you may have one who would love to help.

5) Let them help cook! Even little toddlers can get the veggies out of the veggie drawer (one by one). Have them change into their chef hat and apron first and wash their hands and you’ll have a couple extra minutes. They can stir, count stuff out, be your errand boy or girl (hint: any errand that takes them out of the kitchen for a few minutes is a good errand, like checking on the fish or looking out the window to check the weather–the sillier, the better).

6) Fill up the kitchen sink and have them ‘wash dishes.’ I find it helpful to put a towel on the edge of the sink so they don’t drench themselves.

7) This is a great time for a special activity or toy in their high chair. They can paint (with water on a dark piece of construction paper and a craft sponge), play Playdoh™, squish shaving cream and a drop of food coloring around in a Ziploc™ bag, stir ice cubes, etc.

8) I am a big fan of a healthy pre-dinner ‘snack.’ I serve veggies (my kids love frozen peas or mixed veggies) or a small portion of yogurt. As kids get older, veggies with dip in their own bowl is great, too. This is a terrific time to try out a food your child is not familiar with, too, as they are hungry but they don’t have the pressure of being at the table. So put a piece of zucchini in with the carrot sticks.

9) Stick a playpen or pack-n-play in the corner of your kitchen and plunk your little one in with a selection of toys. Learning to entertain themselves is a skill and may take time to develop. Start when they are infants if you can. If not, start with just a few minutes and increase a minute a day until they can sit and play for a solid stretch (15 mins or more). If your baby or toddler does ‘crib time’ or ‘room time,’ this is a good time of day for it.

10) Judicious use of TV or a DVD. Really.

11) Take-out. If it’s a really difficult day, snuggle your little one, shake out the piggy bank and call for pizza.

How do you get dinner on the table in your home?

-Melissa Caddell

A Barrage of Half-Truths: Navigating the World of Advertising

Mom, we all do it. We let the kids watch television while we accomplish some task, make a phone call, or get a shower. But in some circles I run in, “children and television” are two words that immediately bring a glare of judgment. I mean the two words in combination, not separately… just to be clear. There is no doubt that television effects children whether they watch hours a day or only a few hours a month. There have been countless studies done on the subject by universities and independent organizations.

Now can television be a positive for children too? Sure. For example, my kids love to watch Cyberchase on PBS. This show has a strong emphasis on math skill and I can tell that it has been as much about learning as it is entertainment for my young ones. But lately, I’ve been disturbed by the commercials that my kids have repeated nearly verbatim.

“Mom, did you know that [this toy] can fly 100 feet into the air?” You and I both know that toy is going nowhere near 100 feet in the air. If we even get it 20 feet in the air it’s sure to end up in a tree or on the roof.

“Mom, [that gadget] can hang on the wall in the bathroom and squeeze your toothpaste out for you!” Boy, that must save at least three seconds of your life. A real deal for just $25 plus shipping and handling.

“Mom, if you shop at [this store] you’ll save up to 70% this weekend.” I’ll save 100% by not going at all.

The advertisers are getting to them. And we’ve worked hard to be sure our kids watch very little television at all. In fact, 95% of what they do watch doesn’t have commercials at all. (Yeah, I know PBS, Disney and Nick Jr. are all selling my kids on Chuck E Cheese , but believe me, they’d want to go anyway.) So their ability to repeat nearly word for word what the commercials boasts is genuinely shocking.

Commercials are designed to make me want something that I don’t need. Everything about them, if done well, either makes me remember the product or create a desire to have whatever product they are selling. Which begs the questions: 1) Do I want to subject my children to this? 2) Since I don’t have much choice, how do I help them to understand the trick that is being played on them?

Unless you are an advertising executive, I think the answer to the first questions is a simple “no.” Of course we don’t want our children to be subjected to a barrage of half-truths that will create confusion about reality and a skewed understanding of “needs.” So how do we address the issue of helping them to understand? I’ll admit that I have been known to make a purchase based on advertising! I’m betting you have too. Why? Because we suddenly think we need IT. What we forget is that for hundreds and thousands of years the human race lived without the conveniences that we are told are necessity.

I guess I would offer two simple pieces of advice. First, if your children are under five years old, don’t let them view television with commercials. Stick to kid-centered channels with no commercial advertisements or videos that you have previewed. If kids are older than five, start talking to them about what commercials are and why they are on television. Explain to them that, just like television programming, not everything they see is TRUTH. Commercials are created to sell you something and they are betting that you will want it. Watch some commercials together and point out the falsities and ask the question, “Is that something our family would need?” It’s okay if the answer is “yes.”

For example, do you need laundry detergent? Sure. Do you have to purchase a particular brand? Not really, but this is great conversation starter with older kids. You may prefer a certain brand, but you could wash your family’s clothes with any number of brand-name or generic detergents. Talk about how you choose what to use based on price, environmental impact, scent, and other factors.

Just like everything else in life, it’s our job to help our kids to navigate their way through the world. Television is bound to be a part of it. As they get older, it will be advertisements on the radio or in magazines (Lord, have mercy on mothers with daughters), and we will have to continue the discussions.

Have you navigated this issue with your kids already? We’d love to hear your wisdom!

-Jenna  Hallock

(Stock photo by plasti20)

The Emily Effect: Family rises from tragedy in effort to help struggling mothers

The way Emily Cook Dyches died made the headlines, but her husband wants to make sure people understand the way she lived. He is now using her legacy to help other mothers dealing with perinatal mood disorders.

On Feb. 24, Emily Dyches ran in front of a semitruck after her father tried to stop her.

Emily had never experienced depression or anxiety before the birth of her fifth child. She loved being a mother and it wasn’t unusual for her husband to call during the day and hear laughter in her voice as she described not getting much done because she was too busy snuggling and playing with the kids.

This is a must-watch story on the complex issue of perinatal mental health.

Let’s Hear it for C-Sections!

But I’m wearing my floral flats! That was the first thought that floated through my mind when I learned all my carefully-made birthing plans were out the window. Ridiculous, I know. But I had A PLAN, and wearing floral flats to the hospital was not part of it.

I was a week overdue, and we were at a routine ultrasound. Except it wasn’t routine. The doctor put the wand on my giant belly, immediately directed me to roll over onto my side, then sprinted out of the room. Which is pretty disconcerting. Doctors, maybe don’t do that.

He came back with my OB-GYN on the line who told me, quite calmly, that the baby’s heart rate was decelerated and that I was to go to the nearest hospital. Not the hospital where I’d registered and taken all my birthing classes? The one with the nice Jacuzzis for labor? No. The closest hospital. And go there now.

Here’s the thing: I did everything “right.” I took months of prenatal yoga, I attended birthing classes and read the books and practiced my breathing. I fully intended on having a normal labor, and that’s what my go-bag (still sitting at home) was meticulously packed for: a bluetooth speaker for the carefully selected labor playlist, organic lavender calming spray, a back massager, a labor caftan so I could simultaneously have this kid and look like I was wafting about on the lanai. I ended up using exactly zero percent of it.

Instead, I sat hooked up to machines as we discussed what to do. I was having regular contractions, but the baby was so high up that I wasn’t feeling them. I was not dilated or effaced. I was still in my floral flats. My OB—who we trusted whole-heartedly—gave us the option of trying Pitocin, but she feared we were going to end up at a c-section anyway, except it would be an emergency.

I’m going to be honest, a very large part of me wanted to experience labor. This was the end of the pregnancy marathon I had been running for months, and going for the c-section felt like I was nearing the finish line only to give up. But we knew there was something stopping my body from going into labor. And when it came down to it, who cares what I had planned? Labor and delivery isn’t just about me and my birth story; it’s about delivering a healthy baby.

We decided to go for a c-section. It is a decision that I will never, not for one second, regret. All the classes, the yoga, the textbook pregnancy, and it came down to this: A c-section was the only way I was ever going to have a healthy, living baby.

Not forty-five minutes after we’d made the decision, I was holding my son. And the reason for the c-section? His cord was wrapped tightly around his neck, I had basically no amniotic fluid left, and he had already aspirated meconium.

I’ve had people say they’re sorry when they learn I had a c-section. What is there to be sorry about? I nurtured a growing human in my body and made the best decision for his safe delivery. That’s a triumph, not something deserving of pity.

People also talk about not bonding, or your milk not coming in. I can tell you this, my milk was in—and with a vengeance—within seventy-two hours. And bonding? As I cuddled my newborn onto my chest, he peed all over me. (I guess that solves the mystery of the missing amniotic fluid. It was all in his tiny bladder for a urine-rific gift to his mother.)

A hundred years ago, or living in a different place, my outcome could have been very different. Having a modern hospital and medicine and doctors gave me a healthy baby and a good recovery. Sure, I didn’t envision ever having a c-section. But I am so happy I did. Because at the end of the day, giving birth isn’t just about you. It’s about the baby and doing what’s best for him, whether that’s an unmedicated delivery, epidurals up to your eyeballs, or a c-section.

I left the hospital a few days later with a thriving newborn. And I was still wearing those floral flats.

Jenny lives in Denver with her husband, son, and two fat tabbies. She’s a mom by day, a writer by night, and a traveler whenever she gets the chance. Follow her on her blog or on Twitter.

Seth Meyers’ hilarious play-by-play of wife’s labor

Late Night host Seth Meyers and his wife, Alexi Ashe, welcomed a baby, Ashe Olsen Meyers, on Easter Sunday. Don’t miss his hilarious play-by-play of his wife’s labor that includes almost giving birth in their Uber car, his wife repeatedly screaming  “I DON’T LIKE THIS!” out the window, bunny ears in the delivery room and so much more. Congratulations to the new family!

How new boutique birth center Baby+Company is empowering Denver moms

It is impossible to walk into Baby+Company and not leave inspired. To look at this new boutique birth center in an unassuming strip mall in Wheat Ridge, you’d assume it was just another baby clothing store so I was not prepared for the transformative, even reverent experience the moment I walked in the door. With warm, welcoming colors and a calm atmosphere, Baby+Company could not be more different than a sterile hospital environment. This birth center is about empowerment, education and relationships with the goal of creating a customized care plan based on Mom’s needs. 

bedWhat is Baby+Company?

Baby+Company is a growing network of birth centers designed for healthy women with low-risk pregnancies who are looking for an alternative to hospital-based birth. They bring together the best elements of highly personalized care, along with partnering with a leading local health system and physician practice. Their highly skilled staff, led by Certified Nurse-Midwives develop customized plans that address your health needs and are available 24/7. To complement their clinical care, they offer wellness services and classes including healthy pregnancy workshops, childbirth education, breastfeeding and newborn classes, and a new mom’s group. They even schedule an in-home wellness check from a member of the clinical team two days after baby is born.

There is no reception desk, but it has touches of home everywhere, like a banner of all the babies’ names born at the birth center. A group of new moms was gathered on the comfortable couches in the great room. Nicknamed “The Lunch Bunch” by staff, these women have an informal gathering as often as they can. “We love it here,” one raved. “This is our community.”

When I asked the group of seven who gave birth at the center, two women responded affirmatively, two women had “risked out” with high-risk pregnancies and the others took pre- and post-natal classes. Denver mom Sarah Conner had nothing but good things to say about her experience. “I had an easy delivery with my son so I wanted a more natural birth with my daughter. We arrived at Baby+ Company at 2:30 a.m., she was born at 7 a.m. and I was happy to be home by 11 a.m. for me to recover.”

What happens during labor?

The whole premise of Baby+Company is to work with you to design a birth plan and support you as you make your plan a reality.  Their midwives and nurses are by your side throughout your entire labor. You may wear what you want, move around as much as you want and eat what you want. There are various comfort measures in the beautiful boutique birthing suites including plush queen-sized beds, a walk-in shower with massage sprayer,  a deep soaking tub for water births, a yoga ladder for supported lunges or rebozo, birthing stool for supported squatting, a birth ball for hip opening and Nitrous Oxide. Baby+Company also has a gourmet kitchen so you can make your own food as well as a living room for families. 

babyco2Is it safe to give birth outside of the hospital?

For healthy, low-risk women, giving birth in a birth center is as safe as giving birth in the hospital and actually has health benefits. A recent national study of birth center outcomes found that maternal and neonatal complications rates were extremely low and comparable to what is typical among low-risk women in a hospital setting. According to The National Birth Center Study compiled at Harvard, “most transfers from birth centers to hospitals were not emergencies, with only 1.9% of women or their newborns experiencing a complication during labor or after birth that required urgent transfer to a hospital.”

Community Outreach Manager Lizzie Mara says that at each location, Baby+Company first develops partnerships with the nearby hospital and physicians. Lutheran Medical Center is 1 minute away should an emergency arise and moms are pre-enrolled prior to labor to ensure a seamless transition. “But what if Mom can’t cut it?” I queried. I’d like to think I could have had an empowering natural birth but if we’re being honest, I really liked my epidural, too. “We try to help moms carry out their birth plan but some reach the point of exhaustion so yes, a hospital transfer in those cases is definitely possible.”  

 What other services do you offer?

Baby+Company has a range of classes designed to help parents from pregnancy to early parenthood. Some of their most popular classes include breastfeeding basics, preparing for birth center birth, newborn care, pregnancy and new mom’s groups, and prenatal yoga. They also offer full gynecologic annual exams, including pap smears, pre-conceptual care and contraceptive management. 

Does my insurance cover care with a midwife in a birthing center?

Baby+Company accepts all major insurance plans.

Hospital vs. Home Births vs. Birthing Centers

There’s lot of debate about home versus hospital births. Advocates of home births want the comfort and security of home while most hospital advocates want professional medical staff on-hand in case of problems. So, what if there was a childbirth option that married the two?

Baby+Company is definitely a wonderful option for Denver moms.babyco

In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Dumb Dinner Game Life Lessons

So I have started this new THING at dinner called “What would you do?” Because I’m always trying to find a way to inject a life lesson when my children are NOT in trouble, NOT tuning me out, and NOT crying so hard that my platitudes about how you should “never ever NEVER grab a cactus with your bare hands” tend to go unheard. For my kids, life lessons work best if they are game-like in nature.

So it works like this: I set up a scenario and then ask the contestants, “What would you do?” My two oldest children, highly competitive in nature, work out their answers, trying to outdo the other in terms of overall impressiveness. They get graded on “Applicability.” “Creativity.” And there’s bonus points on “Brown-Nosing Suavity.”

Generally, the game ends with, “Okay Mom, what would YOU do?” Not because they care about learning a lesson, so much as because they’d like to dissect my answer in search of a slip-up/inaccuracy/misjudgment.

What You Need to Know About Vaginal Birth After Cesarean Delivery (VBAC)

Mothers who have given birth via cesarean delivery (C-section) are not automatically reserved to deliver the rest of their children in the same way. Many of my patients come to me asking about vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC) as an option for their next delivery. I often field a number of questions from my patients regarding the viability and safety of VBAC. Here are a few of the most popular:

Do I qualify for VBAC?

Many of my patients who gave birth via C-section qualify for VBAC. Perhaps the most important qualification for VBAC is the type of incision made on the uterus during your previous delivery. Moms wanting to give birth vaginally after a C-section must have given birth with the assistance of a low transverse incision. Performed in a majority of C-sections, a low transverse incision uses a horizontal cut made across the lower part of the uterus. In opposition, if a vertical incision on the higher, thicker part of the uterus was used in your first C-section, VBAC is not an option.

Additionally, patients who had their first C-section due to breech or fetal distress have a better chance of VBAC success as opposed to moms who had to have their C-section after failure to progress.

What are the risks?

For patients who qualify for VBAC, the risks are minimal. In fact, only .5 – 1 percent of patients have complications. However, this does not mean that all mothers who go into labor planning on VBAC are able to deliver vaginally. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists estimates between 60-80 percent of women who try to have a VBAC succeed.

Because labor is different for every mother, difficulty progressing, breech or fetal distress may necessitate a second C-section to ensure the health of both you and your baby. For this reason, every mother planning on VBAC delivery must deliver in an approved hospital with 24-hour obstetric coverage and full access to anesthesia and surgical capabilities.

What are the benefits?

Patients who deliver vaginally spend less time in the hospital than those who deliver via C-section. Because C-section deliveries require major abdominal surgery, hospital stays afterward tend to be longer. VBAC also allows for more mother participation in the labor and delivery process. If you plan on having more children, VBAC delivery helps avoid the risks of multiple surgeries, which can cause the development of scar tissue within the abdomen and pelvis.

There are risks and benefits of each method of delivery, and often times the best approach depends on each individual’s unique case. As I tell my patients, my job is to guarantee the safety of you and your child no matter the method of delivery. If you have any concerns or questions about VBAC, your OB/GYN is a fantastic resource and partner in helping you make the right decision for your family. (476)

drlane** This blog post was written to serve as suggestions for VBAC and should not be taken as concrete medical advice, nor do the views above reflect the views of Women’s Care of Colorado or the HealthONE organization. As with any medical questions or concerns, please make an appointment with your physician to discuss your own personal situation and treatment options.

Dr. Lara Lane has more than 15 years of experience as an OB/GYN physician and is the former chief resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in Santa Clara, Calif. As a member of the Women’s Care of Colorado team, Dr. Lane is primarily focused on childbirth and gynecological needs and is dedicated to helping women better manage their health. In partnership with Mile High Mamas.

Q&A: Top reasons for a “C-Section”

Childbirth is physiology of the human body at its best. While the weeks are counted down, pregnancy books are perused and nursery items are assembled, when it comes time for the birth, labor and delivery do not always go as planned.

Dr. Shan Shan Jiang, an OBGYN specialist at Consultants in OB/GYN, sheds light on important elements of labor that are vital for keeping both mother and baby healthy and safe.

 Why should expecting mothers strive toward a vaginal birth when possible?

There are a number of potentially positive consequences from a vaginal birth, including:

  • Less risk of internal organ damage to the mother.
  • Breastfeeding may be more effective.
  • Mother is much less likely to require a C-section delivery in subsequent pregnancies.

What are the top medical indications for a C-section?

  • If you have had a prior C-section.
  • If you have had prior surgery on the uterus.
  • The baby is breech.
  • Signs of fetal distress.
  • Failure or lack of progression of labor.

What is “failure to progress?”

women-group-pregnantIn active labor, you can have an arrest of dilation. Once you start pushing, you can have arrest of descent.

When the cervix is 6 cm dilated, it is considered active labor. If you have strong and adequate contractions for four hours without a dilation change of your cervix, it is considered “arrest of dilation.”

When the cervix is 10 cm dilated, your provider will ask you to start pushing. If the baby hasn’t been delivered after four hours of pushing, it’s time to think about assisting the birth with birthing forceps or vacuum, versus C-section. This is considered “arrest of descent.”

A C-section is recommended in these situations to minimize health risks for mom and baby.

 If my cervix does not dilate on its own, what are some ways to help my labor progress toward a vaginal delivery?

Your provider may recommend breaking your water by starting oxytocin to help strengthen your contractions.

When my doctor or midwife asks for “internal monitors,” what does it mean?

There are two types of internal monitors. One is called an intrauterine pressure catheter (IUPC), which is a catheter placed between baby’s head and the uterine wall that measures the strength of contractions. This is used to prevent a C-section by making sure your contractions are strong enough to dilate your cervix.

The other is called a fetal scalp electrode. It is like placing an acupuncture needle on baby’s scalp during labor to better monitor baby’s heart rate. It is typically used when the baby needs to be repositioned to improve oxygenation to the baby.

Does getting an epidural increase my chance of needing a C-section?

Epidurals increase the average amount of time from start of labor to delivery but don’t significantly increase the risk for having a C-section.[1]

 If I had a C-section before, does it mean I will always need a C-section for my subsequent pregnancies?

No, a trial of labor after C-section (TOLAC) can be a very safe option for expecting moms who have had a previous C-section. In fact, you can consider a TOLAC even with two previous C-sections. Talk to your doctor or midwife for more details on the risks and benefits.

Combining her passion for the social sciences and expertise in obstetrics and gynecology, Dr. Jiang strives to provide highly personalized, comprehensive care to women of all ages. Dr. Jiang and the Consultants in OB/GYN team specialize in obstetric and gynecologic care. Call 303-322-2240 or visit www.consobgyn.com to make an appointment.

 [1] The College of Family Physicians of Canada. Does epidural analgesia increase rate of cesarean section? 10 April 2006. In partnership with Mile High Mamas