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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Luna Moms Club Tip of the Week:

Educational Tip of the Week:

Fact: Plastic baby bottles are often made with polycarbonate plastic that can leach Bisphenol-A. This chemical disrupts proper hormone functioning, alters genes and disrupts normal physical and behavioral development.

Action: Use bottles made of glass or polypropylene plastic. Two companies who make these safer baby bottles are ThinkBaby and Born Free.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Staying Fit on Vacation

Here's my little guy on the beach in Ocean City, NJ- he LOVES the beach!

I've been so blessed this summer with a couple of wonderful family beach vacations. One week in Holden Beach, NC with my husband's family, one week in Ocean City, NJ with my family and various weekends with more of my husband's family in Carolina Beach, NC. While it is a treat to be at the beach it is not easy to fit in my workout when I am away from our daily routine!

A few weeks ago I drafted this blog post for WRAL's Go Ask Mom blog and it has been such great accountability for me. I can't go on vacation and not workout after writing about staying fit on vacation! Plus- I knew I had my Stroller Strides ladies to come home to... I couldn't come back out of shape!

So please read my latest blog post... at this address:

And leave me a comment if you want to share about the exercise you got while on vacation!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Luna Moms Club Tip of the Week:

Fact: According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality is one of the top five environmental health concerns. Given that people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors, it's important to do what you can to reduce indoor air pollution.

One of the simplest things you can do is open a window. Even if it's chilly outside (we should be so lucky!), you should open a window for just five minutes a day to significantly decrease the concentrations of indoor air pollutants in your home. Most home heating and cooling systems, including forced air heating systems, do not mechanically bring fresh air into the house. Open a window and start breathing cleaner air.

And play outside more!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Post-Pregnancy Challenge #9: Tired All The Time

I have a confession to make. For the first 6 months or so of Monty's life I saw bugs that weren't really there. Do we have bugs in our 70+ year old house? Oh yeah, we do but these were imaginary bugs that I can only attribute to being sleep deprived! I can't express how much better I felt when he dropped his night-time feedings and starting sleeping from 6:30pm to 7am!

Exhaustion can make us moms feel like grumpy, loopy, clumsy, forgetful, crazy people- with bugs crawling up our peripheral vision! Though if our husbands called us out on it we would probably just start sobbing- don't they see how hard we're working?

So what can we do about it? Unless you plan on handing over your mothering duties and hiding under the covers for a month (which I don't recommend) there's not much you can do about replenishing the lost sleep. Since we can't catch up- how do we get through this time?

Here are some things I DO recommend to combat post-pregnancy sleep deprivation:
*Accept offers of help from family and friends. Babysitting, vacuuming, meals- whatever it is- say yes!
*Eat whole grains, fruit, veggies and lean proteins and drink plenty of water especially if you are breastfeeding.
*Exercise- you'll find you have more energy after doing so!
*"Lean Mommy" (by Lisa Druxman) recommends Mommy Meditations- taking a quiet moment to practice your deep breathing, visualize your energy, and mentally let go of your stress. And if you fall asleep and end up taking a nap- that is great too!

If you're looking for advice on how to teach your baby to sleep through the night or nap on a predictable schedule, I recommend "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. It worked for Monty and I hope it helps you too... but there are plenty of other sleep books out there that our friends have used with great success as well.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Post-Pregnancy Challenge #8: No Time to Eat Right or Take Care of Yourself

I can never seem to find enough hours in the day to do everything I want and need to do. If I get ahead in the laundry then I'm behind in the ironing. If I get the grocery shopping done I run out of time do anything beyond microwaving dinner. There really is never enough time to "do it all" and often the things I sacrifice are eating right and exercising. Does this resonate with anyone else? Please, please tell me I'm not alone (really- I'd love to see some comments)!

Here are some of Lisa Druxman's tips for overcoming this post-pregnancy challenge from her book, "Lean Mommy":
On eating right:
*Choose foods that are nourishing, fast, and easy to prepare. Toss a bag of almonds or walnuts or a banana into your bag when you're packing for baby and you'll be prepared with a healthy snack when the hunger pangs start.
*Plan ahead when you know you'll be eating out and make a healthy menu choice in advance. Most restaurants post their menus and nutritional information online.

On fitting in exercise (turning mothering into me-time):
*Turn your mothering duties into opportunities to exercise. Strap your fussy baby into a Baby Bjorn or sling and do some lower body toning exercises together while you sing or sweet talk your little one out of his or her fussiness. Some squats and lunges will gently rock your baby and firm up those glutes and quads at the same time!
*Give your baby a dose of sunshine and socialization by joining other moms for a Stroller Strides class or stroller walk around the neighborhood. You'll get some exercise and your baby will enjoy some impromptu playgroup time.

Years ago I saw an illustration that has stayed with me. The presenter had a big mason jar and next to it a collection of items. There were rocks, pebbles, sand, and a small pitcher of water. It seemed impossible but they swore they could fit all of these items in the jar at once. You know how they did it? They put the big things in first- the rocks, then the pebbles, then the sand, then the water. The lesson that has stayed with me all these years?

Put the big things in first and all of the smaller things will fit in around them.

(This is an old picture of my husband and I on vacation with our family in Bermuda... see you can fit a lot in if you try!)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Luna Moms Club Tip of the Week

Fact: Laboratory tests of eight industry-leader baby foods reveal the presence of 16 pesticides, including three carcinogens.

Action: Buy certified organic baby food (Plum Organics and Happy Baby are great flash frozen organic brands). Or make your own baby food from organic, pesticide-free fruits & veggies!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Post-Pregnancy Challenge #7: Discomfort or Pain in your Wrists

Every couple of months I know my son is going through a growth spurt because my wrists and thumbs start to ache. What does one have to do with the other, you ask? When suddenly there's more of him to carry around my wrist strength seems to take about a week or so to catch up.

Many women experience carpal tunnel syndrome during pregnancy and others during the postnatal period. Carpal tunnel syndrome is a condition wherein swelling in the wrists puts pressure on the nerves and causes pain, discomfort, tingling, and even numbness.

Bending at the wrist can exacerbate the problem but we can't just not pick up our babies for a week until it subsides. So what can you do about it?

In her book, "Lean Mommy", Lisa Druxman suggests first trying to rest your wrists whenever you can if you're feeling any of the symptoms above. When you are using your wrists make sure you are maintaining proper alignment. Take a look at your wrists when you pick up your baby and his/her stuff, push a stroller, or feed your baby. If they are not in a neutral alignment with your forearm then readjust and try to be aware of your alignment throughout your day and make small readjustments whenever necessary.

Some pregnant women find it helpful to wear a wrist brace to alleviate carpal tunnel symptoms during pregnancy. Your obstetrician can advise you regarding that piece of equipment if you think you may need it.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Post-Pregnancy Challenge #6: Scrunched Shoulders

Well, I kind of wrote about this one already- so see this post for more details!

But I'll say it again anyway- stand up nice and tall, roll your shoulders back and down, and pull those abs in tight! Learn to recognize your slump and stop yourself! Hear your mothers' voice in your head: "If you keep doing that, you're going to get stuck like that!" I think she was talking about making weird faces at my younger brothers- but you can apply it here too!

Need some added motivation to stop slouching around? Your belly looks smaller, your boobs look bigger, and you appear taller and more confident when you're standing upright!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Post-Pregnancy Challenge #5: Separated Ab Muscles

Have you ever been tested for Diastasis Recti? No- its not some nasty parasite you picked up on spring break so many years ago. It is simply a separation of the connective tissue in your outermost abdominal muscle (the rectus abdominis) that you might have noticed in your second trimester of pregnancy.

The split in your connective tissue and widening gap between the two muscles are normal and serve to make room for a growing baby during pregnancy. However, the connective tissue and muscle fibers don't necessarily knit themselves back together after you deliver- at least not without some work on your part.

There are varying degrees of separation and if you aren't sure how separated your muscles are you can ask your Doctor or your Stroller Strides Instructor to test for you. You can keep your clothes on for this test- so it can be done right before or after class- just ask! A normal separation is somewhere between one and two finger-widths. If you have wider gap than normal you should avoid twisting motions and oblique crunches or any moves that make your tummy bulge out at the separation.

Here are some basic core strengthening exercises that Lisa Druxman, Stroller Strides Founder and CEO, recommends in her book, "Lean Mommy".

1. Cinch the Corset: Imagine you are wearing an old-fashioned corset. Tighten the corset to bring in your entire waistline- front, back, and sides. Breathe throughout the exercises. Hold and release.

2. Button your Belly Button: Imagine you are wearing a tight pair of jeans and you have to suck it in to get them on. Now button in your belly button or your pants will come open- breathe! Hold and release.

3. Splinted Crunch: Lie in a regular crunch position on your back on top of a towel or scarf. Wrap the ends around your belly so that you are cinching in your waistline. Draw in your abs and do a small crunch by lifting your head and shoulders, raising only to the point just before you see your abs bulge. Release and repeat.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Post-Pregnancy Challenge #4: Uncontrolled Peeing & Leaking

Fortunately I have not had any personal experience with bladder control problems- yet. However, there are plenty of women out there with this issue- the data says 1 in 3 women will have bladder control issues and your risk of incontinence later in life increases the longer you experience it postpartum. Bladder issues come in many forms from a complete lack of control, to a constant urge to pee even if there's nothing there, to the occasional leak when you sneeze, cough, laugh, or pick up your stroller. This is a topic that no one likes to talk about (uncomfortable!) but more often than not someone in your group of mom-friends is dealing with it- maybe even you(?).

There are lots of products and interventions out there for women with uncontrolled peeing and leaking issues- from adult diapers, to surgery, to pessaries (google it- you'll be shocked), to bladder training, and so forth and so on. None of it sounds particularly pleasant.

I recently learned that there is a new product that is perfect for active and/or pregnant moms- pretty panties with built-in light leak protection. The product is called STRIDE Femme™ and if you're peeing your way through Stroller Strides class this might be the product for you.

But I digress... the real question is: how do we prevent or start to repair pelvic floor damage done by pregnancy, childbirth, and age?

For many new moms, doing pelvic floor strengthening exercises, or Kegel exercises, will reduce or eliminate incontinence! If you've never done them before- here is a brief description (some excerpted from Lisa Druxman's book, "Lean Mommy") and you can always ask your Doctor or Midwife to help you verify that you are exercising the correct muscles during your regular checkup too.

First we need to isolate the muscle that you should contract during this exercise. While you're peeing tighten up your muscles to stop the flow of urine. THAT is the muscle you should contract when you're doing Kegel exercises. OK- resume peeing because the toilet isn't the place to practice on a regular basis as it may irritate your urethra and cause other urinary issues.

So now that you know where the muscle is and what it feels like to squeeze it- it is time to exercise! Squeezing these muscles in 3 different ways will help you train all of the muscle fibers effectively.

1. Hold the squeeze without letting go for as long as you can, gradually working up to longer and longer time spans- but don't hold your breath!

2. Squeeze hard and then completely relax, turn some music on and squeeze to the beat. Breathe normally and work your way up to 20 reps. This would be an easy one to practice in your car at red lights- squeezing to the beat on the radio!

3. Speed up the contractions- do a lighter but faster squeeze-release.

As an added bonus- many women report enhanced sexual functioning- bring on the next baby!