Category: PreConception

Decoding the mysteries of the Baby Brain Infant Intellect

Decoding the mysteries of the Baby Brain

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The Mysteries of Infant intellect
I suppose the dull demeanor of infants stems from their total captivation with themselves. Babies are ignorant to the pressures and ideals of culture, tradition and society and are therefore indifferent when it comes to status, money, fame or fashion. They are not concerned that you’re buried in responsibility, late on your taxes, or have not slept a full night in months. Like society’s most narcissistic adults, babies are engrossed in their own needs. Eat. Sleep. Poop. Or so we thought.

Groundbreaking research out of the University of California, has revealed that babies as young as six months have the potential to rationalize using probability. Also, in 1997 Hungarian researchers discovered that babies less than one year old were able to comprehend rational action. When babies observed repeated behavior of an object, they developed a logical expectation that the object’s behavior would remain consistent. Further evidence was in the 2009 French and American research study of newborns, which concluded that infants may recognize numbers. Researchers played sequences of four and twelve sounds, followed by images that displayed 4 and 12 objects. The infants stared much longer at images that correlated with the number of sounds, hinting that a newborn may comprehend numerical values.

Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) calls the rise in studies of baby brains, the “infant revolution”. According to MIT scientists, babies are sophisticated learners that have much more knowledge about the world, right at birth, than we previously believed. In London, at the University College London and Birbeck College, “baby labs” have been set up, solely for researching the infant brain. Other similar sites exist at the University of Toronto’s Infant and Child Studies Centre and MIT’s Early Childhood Cognition Lab, where they are studying infant cognition and language development.

Fascination with the baby brain is a product of this generation. A generation ago no one was interested. During my pregnancy, I passed on reading the parental advice of Dr. Spock, and instead drowned myself in books that explored the mind of my, yet to be born, son. I was introduced to so many intriguing facts about the developing baby brain. Did you know that just two months after birth synapses in the baby’s brain form at about 1.8 million per second, the fastest they will ever grow? Also, contrary to our belief that babies seek to entertain, that cute dance-like hand motion that infants perform is an involuntary response called the Moro reflex, that occurs when babies get a feeling of falling due to a change in position. I also learned some shocking information that would put fear in most parents, which is the theory that Sudden Infant Death Syndrome does not occur because of sleep positioning, but happens when infants dream of being in the womb during REM sleep. What is thought to happen is that babies stop breathing during the dream since breathing is not necessary in utero, which results in death.

Overall, a baby perplex the greatest of parents. They basically need you for everything yet are not able to explain their thoughts or feelings. I suspect that is why there is an urge to get inside their heads. Perhaps if you learn more you can control their crying, keep them happy or better yet put them to sleep (while breathing, of course). I think that it is great to see this generation’s fascination with the psychology and development of babies. Maybe these million dollar labs and scores of researchers will crack the code and discover the mysteries of the baby brain. Who knows? Their thoughts may be profound…or maybe they will just be thinking “ummm…is it time for my bottle yet?” or “…stop touching me!”

It is understood that the academic feats of any particular subject rarely translate into practical application, but one can only hope that the investigation into babes will help someone besides toy companies. What is more interesting in my opinion is not so much the thoughts or potential intellect of an infant, but what they make us think and do. Roots of Empathy is a successful school program that started in Toronto in 1996 and has since spread to Germany, New Zealand, and the United States. The development of babies is observed, and not in “baby labs”. Instead babies visit elementary school children at regular intervals so that the children can participate in their development, and learn how to nurture and care for someone else. The magical aspect of this program is not that babies are solving intricate math equations, but that the babies bring out the love and compassion in human beings. I’m certain babies are better at exposing our heart’s intentions than we’ll ever be at exposing theirs.

teaching their kids right from wrong good parenting good child behavior discipline spanking children timeouts effective parenting effective parenting techniques

No timeouts, reward charts or taking their toys away. So how do we get our kids to behave?

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How can we get our children to behave, without resorting to time outs, reward charts or harsh punishments? 
These days, most parents no longer use spanking and other types of physical punishment on their children. For many parents, time outs have become the most accepted method of teaching their kids right from wrong.
However, according to the author of a new book on what brain science tells us about disciplining our kids, even time outs can hurt your child’s physiological and emotional growth.
Now, some prominent American psychologists are arguing that a child’s neurological development is best encouraged by techniques that “focus on connection, not separation” between a child and his or her parent.
One psychologist has written that “The classic approach to discipline, which presents difficult behavior as something that must be stopped, simply does not work,”
So, if even time outs are potentially hurtful to our children’s health, what should a parent do? We spoke with a doctor of psychology about a more scientific approach to discipline.

Why do experts advise parents not to spank?
Now that we know better, we must do better. Thanks to recent scientific findings, we now understand that parenting through fear, withholding love, and using physical isolation does not benefit children’s development.

What do these current findings tell us?
As parents, we often attempt to teach children about the realities of the adult world, and we expect them to keep control over themselves. But the truth is, kids simply don’t have self-control because their frontal and prefrontal cortexes are immature. We now understand that the brain develops from the bottom up. In other words, the core of the brain is the first to really take root, followed by the rest of the brain layering up on that core foundation.
When scientists look into that core of the brain, we find much of the neural circuitry that relates to emotion and, therefore, to emotional control. Recently there has been a lot of research done to look more closely at what causes that part of the brain or its related systems to act up and become disregulated, or, alternatively, at what might cause those particular parts of the brain to be calmed and relaxed.
In cases where kids are stressed by the use of a relational disconnection, including punishments that rely on fear or time outs that place a child in isolation, these techniques can cause a disregulation in the developing brain. When parents say, “I’ll teach them a real lesson and I’ll make sure they really know,” unfortunately, you can try to teach that lesson over and over till the cows come home, but the truth is that if the child’s brain isn’t mature enough to learn it, they aren’t going to learn.

You argue that discipline isn’t actually about stopping a negative behavior. What is discipline, then?
When it comes down to it, discipline is really about connecting with your children in their time of need. We can give children the support they need through our connection with them, which calms them and steadies and regulates their responses. Only then can we try to teach them about making good behavior choices. And we realize that it may take a few tries for a child to learn what is expected of them.
But as kids grow, and their ability to control themselves increases, and our relationship with them is healthy, they’ll actually want to please us. Neuroplasticity, which allows the brain to change, reinforces connections that encourage that sort of regulated brain. Over time, the child’s capacity for self-regulation and self control increases.
Many parents use positive techniques such as reward charts and the taking of privileges instead of spanking, but you’ve stated that these strategies can also hurt a child’s development.
These styles all use either fear or external validation. Since children are so desperate to have their parental connection restored, they will obey, but it’s an artificial control. They’re still unsettled and disregulated inside. Long term, this can leave your child more susceptible to issues like anxiety and depression.

So, what is the underlying concept of your own discipline strategy?

Scientists understand with certainty that children need connections with their caregivers to thrive. Children literally need those connections for a healthy development. Most of the familiar discipline tactics involve some form of disconnection. We have to accept that idea of connection, and accept that a strong parent child relationship is the foundation of a child’s health and growth, so we should filter all of our discipline through this lens of connection. When parents do that, children grow brains that are really good at self regulating.

What should parents do instead of spanking or time outs?
Take all of the above into account and read three specific steps to effectively responding in the moment. The fact is that effective discipline isn’t as much about what you do, it’s more about how you are & how you do it. If you want to be effective at parenting, this is a key indicator for you to use. Did I give my child a chance to learn something today?

The best thing to do is to try out our recommendations. Especially if they feel strange or foreign to you. Give it a shot. It doesn’t hurt to try a new way of effectively communicating with your child & focusing on achieving the intended outcome.
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Tips for Effective Parenting

1. Tip: Stay firm but be kind.

Example: “No, you can’t have that toy [child starts complaining]. I hear that you’re disappointed, and I imagine if I were you I would be too.”

2. Tip: Misbehavior is a sign the child is struggling.

Example: “Oh no, it sounds like you’re really struggling with this. Why don’t you take a break for a minute and come with me. I think we should get a drink of water and we can figure this out together.”

3. Tip: Focus on your relationship as the foundation of any discipline.
Example: “Wow! What an look amazing Lego creation! I really love how you used so many colors together. You can finish up for five more minutes, then you’ll need to go wash your hands and head to the table so we can sit down to dinner.”

Are Dads Less Important Than Moms to Raising a Child? Father impact parenting

Are Dads Less Important Than Moms to Raising a Child?

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Over the years, fathers were often seen as the parent who was less important to child raising while the mother shouldered all the work and responsibility. Paul Raeburn gathers overwhelming evidence that fathers bring more to the child-rearing than many people believe.

In the 1970s, it was thought that fathers didn’t have much to contribute to the development of their children. Admittedly, science journalist Paul Raeburn writes in his new book, Do Fathers Matter?, researchers at the time had little data to prove the value of fathers—but that was because few had taken the time to look into the impact of fathers on their offspring. “When we bother to look for the father’s impact, we find it—always,” Yale psychiatrist and fatherhood research pioneer Kyle Pruett told Raeburn. Ignoring dads, Pruett says, produced a field of research with “staggering blind spots.

Fast forward to today, and the body of work that psychologists, biologists, sociologists, and neuroscientists have begun to produce on fatherhood is “one of the most important developments in the study of children and families,” Raeburn believes, even though many findings have yet to receive wide attention.

When it comes to his own family, Raeburn, who is a father of five, shares, “I’m glad to know my involvement is a good thing. But that’s not why I spend time with my kids. I do it because I like it.”

Raeburn shares seven ways that fathers are influencing their offspring from before birth to the child’s teen years.

In the Womb: Fighting for Resources

Some imprinted genes, or genes that are identified as coming from the male or female parents, compete for resources long before the baby is born. According to Harvard University biologist David Haig, there are maternal genes that push the fetus to pull as much nourishment and energy from the mother even if it’s a risk to her health. Maternal genes will deliver only what the growing child needs. He explains that the maternal genes have a vested interest in the mother’s well-being while the paternal genes favor a greater allocation of time and effort.

In Pregnancy: The Power of Presence

During a woman’s pregnancy, there would appear to be little a father could do to impact the growing child. A recent University of South Florida study shows that’s not the case. Infants whose fathers were absent during pregnancy were more likely to be born prematurely or with lower birth weights than those whose fathers were present. Such babies were also four times more likely to die within their first year. Even in mothers, complications of pregnancy that would seem to have no connection to male involvement, including anemia and high blood pressure, were more common when fathers were absent.

At Birth: Men Deliver Relief

Old sitcoms showing fathers anxiously pacing in waiting rooms while their wives delivered their children were no exaggeration: From the 1930s, when most U.S. births had moved from the home to the hospital, until the late 1960s, when more men had successfully agitated to gain a place by their wives’ bedsides, delivery was a women-and-professionals only affair, to the apparent detriment of everyone involved. As more men took their place in the maternity ward, women reported feeling less pain, and requests for pain medication declined. Mothers were even less likely to cry. What’s more, men present for their children’s birth report being more attached to their infants and more involved in their care. Letting dads in, Raeburn writes, “pays off in ways no one anticipated.”

Postpartum: An Underreported Risk

How can we gauge the importance of paternal companionship in a child’s early months? In part by observing what happens when infants are deprived of it. One in 10 men experience some form of postpartum depression, Raeburn reports, limiting their ability to emotionally connect with their babies. Children of fathers with major episodes of postpartum depression appear to be eight times as likely as others to have behavior problems as they grow and 36 times as likely to have difficulty getting along with peers.

Toddlerhood: Dads Limit Aggression

Researchers from the University of Oxford found that when fathers kept their infants at a remote distance from them, the children were more likely to develop aggression later in life. In those cases, it didn’t matter how the mothers interacted with the child. Swedish researchers in a related meta-analysis of 24 studies of paternal involvement found that dads who helped care for the children, played with them and took them on outings developed fewer behavior problems in early childhood as well as lowering the risk of adolescent delinquency.

Early Childhood: Look Who Gets You Talking

In at least one aspect of childhood—acquiring language—fathers simply matter more than mothers. For example, researchers studying parental roles in language development among poor, rural children found that a father’s use of vocabulary when reading to kids at six months of age predicted their expressiveness at 15 months and their use of advanced language at age three—regardless of the mother’s educational level or how she spoke to the children. The hypothesis: Since mothers spend more time with children, they’re more likely to use words with which kids are most familiar, while fathers, less attuned to their children’s linguistic comfort zone, introduce a wider vocabulary.

Teen Years and the Scent of the Dad

Evolutionary biologist were bewildered over the fact that girls with absent fathers tended to reach sexual maturity earlier and had high rates of teen pregnancy. University of Arizona’s Bruce Ellis studied families where the parents were divorced as well as families where the daughters were at least five years apart, which gave the older daughter more exposure to the father. In the families with daughters five years apart, he found that the younger girls were getting their first periods almost one year earlier than the older girls.

Psychologist Sarah Hill of Texas Christian University told Raeburn that she believes a father’s absence delivers a subconscious cue about “the mating system they are born into” and that men will not stick around, so they need to find mates quickly. Their genes then effectively push the girls into early puberty. (This effect is more pronounced in families in which the absent fathers had not been a positive presence while in the home.) Ellis believes the source of this phenomenon could be related to a father’s scent. In animal experiments, there is evidence that sustained exposure to a father’s pheromones can slow down puberty. That hypothesis remains largely untested in humans.

How to be a good parent: It’s all about you! Self Improvement

How to be a good parent: It’s all about you!

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Focus on self-improvement in order to improve as a parent.

Modification of your child’s ways is generally the focus of mainstream information on how to be a better parent. But that is not really the answer. Research indicates that being a better parent begins with self-improvement. Improvement of oneself is where becoming a more nurturing, quality mom or dad starts. While it is easier to look at what must change in the child, looking inward at ourselves for greater personal understanding only enhances our parenting abilities.

Through our children we revisit our own childhood and its unresolved issues.

We may have shelved painful feelings from our past. But our children reawaken those hurt feelings through their own innocence, spontaneity and liveliness. When we avoid dealing with these feelings from our childhood, we are blocking closer relation to our own children. Discomfort, anger and resentment toward our own children can surface when emotional connection is present. By blocking our feelings being reawakened in these times, we cut ourselves off from our children and miss the cues of what they are experiencing.

Researchers have explored this area, saying:
A child’s open arms reaching for us open up our own wounds of loneliness. But these moments bring to the surface all at once the physical smells new and stagnant of ghostly sensations awakened in ourselves. These are awakened by that dead self of the parent, who was the child now seen in the baby. The baby reaches out using the heartfelt language of innocence, the language long forgotten by the parent through learned mistrust.

In lieu of continuing this defense mode we place ourselves in against the feelings of our youth, we can face those feelings and explore any unresolved trauma to make sense of those pains. As we gain better understanding of what happened to us during our own youth, we become much more effective as parents to our own children. We also develop more stable and cohesive attachments with our own children. Another researcher states, “The integration of our own self-knowledge facilitates our being open to the process of becoming emotionally connected with our children. Coherent self-knowledge and interpersonal joining go hand in hand.”

Whatever we criticize within ourselves and about ourselves, we project onto our children.

When exhibiting ambivalence and other attitudes toward our children, we are actually projecting the attitudes we have about ourselves onto them. Within each of us exists conflict between self-confidence and self-appreciation versus self-hatred and self-deprecation. Unsurprisingly, these conflicts and contradictions manifest through our attitudes toward our own children. The attitudes a parent has about his or her own children are directly influenced by the internal conflicts that parent feels in regard to his or herself.

It is common for parents to project their own feelings of self-criticism and poor self-image onto their children. By doing this, they then become heavily critical of the projections then seen as qualities and behaviors of their child. This perpetuates the problem, with the children starting to see themselves through the same light as the parent did of him or herself during childhood.

By looking internally, and by examining the genesis of our negative attitudes and beliefs about ourselves, we gain greater compassion for ourselves and our offspring at the same time.

Leading researchers say that children are of particular vulnerability, when it comes to being the target of parental projection of unresolved issues from the parent’s childhood. The defense mechanisms which served us well in childhood later inhibit our ability to parent our children with empathy and receptivity. Without engaging our own inward-looking self-understanding, we are inflicting our distorted patterns of defensive response onto our children’s own experiences.

We perpetuate our parents’ behaviors by acting the same with our children, as they did with us.

At some point in time, usually when scolding their child, every parent experiences that moment when they think they sound just as their own parents did. This is a horrifying moment wherein it is hard to believe that you are using the same words or behaving the same way toward your child. But the reality is that all parents are somewhat programmed to repeat their parents’ patterns.

This reenactment may occur when the child is at an age which was particularly difficult or traumatic for the parent. At these stages in development, parents often reenact how they were parented during the same phase.

There are three phases comprising this perpetuation of negative parenting through the generations. Those are:

(1) During formative years, each of us experienced hostility, trauma, rejection and deprivation to varied degrees. When our parents were not emotionally or physically in control as we experienced these things, we developed an internal voice of criticism in their place. In essence, we took on the role of parents when they were not able to provide the support or guidance we needed during their worst moments.
(2) This critical and detrimental internal voice remained with us throughout our lives. It punishes, creates limitations, restricts and even soothes us, as we act for ourselves as our parents did for us.
(3) As we parent our own children, we feel drawn to similarly parenting our children, using the same tools of mistreatment as were used on us.

To stop the cycle of reenactment, we as parents must directly face the feelings of our childhood, those felt as a result of received treatment. If these are revisited, we can then more clearly see the negative attitudes internalized in youth and end the cycle of those attitudes. It is then that we can provide the affection, warmth, guidance, sensitivity and love that is so critical for a child’s well-being.

You are your child’s role model.

Leading researchers presented their findings of a study about what makes a quality parent. This study utilized 2,000 parents to formulate results. As part of a resulting list of ten critical parenting competencies, only five were relative to the relationship between parent and child. The remaining five were only relative to the parent.

Three of the top ten competencies were based in modeling. One of the three was relationship skills, as having a quality relationship with one’s significant other models those skills. The second of the three was education and learning. Having a quality education models educational opportunities and learning. Health was the final of the three modeling competencies, as eating right and remaining physically active models good health.

It has been realized by psychologists that children act as they see their parents act, not simply doing as their parents do. This makes being a positive role model even more powerful than any form of training or discipline in rearing of children. Rules, statements and guidance are overshadowed by these processes of imitation and parental identification. Children become as they see their parents being as part of everyday life. Everything a parent does should be worthy of imitation by the child, as children will re-enact what they see.

Another researcher said, “While most parents are ready to teach their children discipline and know that they are the ones to do so, they are less ready to accept the idea that they can teach only by example.” Parental traits of congeniality, non-intrusiveness, consistency and generosity all positively affect their child’s personality.

The truth that our children emulate us is reason enough to focus on self-development. Only through living with integrity in our own lives are we able to adequately model our children as mature adults. Maturity and honesty are key in determination of our children’s healthy formation, even more so than other techniques provided by experts.

Live well for yourself.

It is not healthiest to sacrifice our own fulfillment for our children, but to seek self-fulfillment. Through pursuing our own goals, we provide a positive example to our offspring. Living well starts with genuine value of ourselves in acceptance of our wants, needs, feelings and priorities. This means actively living our own lives. By doing so, we profoundly impact our children’s personal development and their futures positively.

“We need not make any claim to be perfect. But if we strive as best we can to live good lives ourselves, our children, impressed by the merits of living good lives, will one day wish to do the same.”

Many parents choose to live through their children’s lives, in lieu of living their own. By doing so, they are taking away from their children, not giving to them. These parents are emotionally feeding off of their children, in desire for deprivation of love and care in their own childhood. This is a confusion of the feelings of need and love, draining the child through emotional hunger of the parent.

In lieu of working to be the “best parent,” parents can provide more by being real and honest with them, admitting weaknesses and shortfalls. They should share history of their own childhood with their children, revealing struggles they endured, successes they achieved and generally being honest and open with the children. Compassionate child rearing is developed through the parents’ own compassion for themselves.

Accept your children’s love.

Parents raised through self-imagery of being unlovable often present obstacles for close, tender bonding with their own children. Parents unable to accept their child’s love often provide negative response to these attempts by the child to grow closer. Many texts written about child-rearing fail to provide this behavior the attention it needs.

In Conquer Your Critical Inner Voice, it is written, “Our children need to be able to feel their loving feelings for us, for the people we really are behind our roles as parents. If we deny this opportunity to our children, they will suffer emotionally. We need to learn to be receptive to our children’s spontaneous expressions of affection and love toward us. This seems obvious, yet it may be the most difficult task faced by us as parents.”

Top 10 Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents Advice Parenting

Top 10 Tips for Stay-at-Home Parents

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Some glamorize the stay-at-home mother role, but it’s a job like any other. It is typically a series of routines that cause a great deal of stress and overwhelming chores. It ends like any other work week with complete exhaustion. After years of perfecting the art, I have learned there are a few things that you do and others you don’t. Here is a list of 10 tips for stay-at-home moms and dads.

1. Find a Back-up Sitter

You never know when you will need to do things for you or the home. Have a sitter on speed dial so that if it’s just a quick jolt to the store, you can do it in peace.

2. Make Sure To Have Friends and A Life

Though your children are precious, you need a life outside of them. You will appreciate your family more when you have time away.

3. Learn To Block Out The Noise

Kids are very loud, and you cannot expect them to be quiet. Rather than yelling at them for every noise, just learn to ignore. It will save your nerves in the long run.

4. Have Fun

The whole idea of staying home with your kids is to have fun. Make sure to dance, sing and make them laugh. If you are stressed out all the time then you are not doing your kids or yourself any good.

5. Lower Expectations and Say “Yes” More

Remember they are kids! They are not going to get everything the first time or clean like you do. Stop saying “no” so much and find a way to say “yes” more. Don’t be a “Negative Nellie.”

6. Only Clean Up Once A Day

If you constantly try to clean up the home, you will drive yourself mad. Clean up once at the end of the day.

7. Put Yourself In Time Out

If you are at the end of your rope, it’s okay to take a time out. Go outside or shut yourself in a room for a while till you cool down.

8. Don’t Give Toddlers Options

Toddlers can’t make choices very well and don’t do well with yes or no questions. Make the decisions for them and save yourself the heartache.

9. Take Care of Your Own Hygiene

Don’t get so busy and wrapped up in your day that you don’t have time to shower and dress. You are first and foremost a person and your hygiene is just as important.

10. Don’t Get Too Much Advice

There are tons of books out there that offer great advice. However, getting too much advice is just not necessary. Make your own path through trial and error. You know what t do, and they’re your kids.

9 Bizarre Facts About Newborn Babies That Doctors Don’t Tell You

9 Bizarre Facts About Newborn Babies That Doctors Don’t Tell You

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Babies cannot taste salt, are unable to shed actual tears, and are born without kneecaps! Here, more weird facts about our tiniest humans.

Young infants are born with a well-developed sense of taste, but are missing the ability to taste salt. Studies demonstrate that infants cannot taste salt until they are four months old. They do taste other flavors like everyone else, particularly sour, sweet and bitter flavors. This could also explain all those videos on YouTube of babies tasting lemons. Additionally, some studies show infants can possess more taste buds than adults.

They Cry…But Without Tears
Newborns cry often, but they are unable to shed tears. They lack functioning tear ducts until they reach between one to four months of age. Their eyes do make, however, basal tears. These are non-emotional tears designed to moisturize the eyes.

They Menstruate
Before they are born, babies are exposed to high levels of the female hormone estrogen. At birth, when the baby is disconnected from their mother, estrogen levels rapidly decrease. In girls, this can cause what is known as pseudomenstruation, which is similar to menstruation in young and adult women. Rapid drops in estrogen and other hormones are actually what cause menstruation to occur in adult women. Mothers often worry when they see blood in their babies’ diapers when they are not familiar with the phenomenon, however it’s normal and happens to approximately one-fourth of all female babies, typically in the first week of life.

They Lactate
The decrease in hormone levels that triggers psueudomenstruation can also cause galactorrhea, a condition where newborns have tiny breast buds that actually lactate and produce small amounts of milk from their nipples. It can happen to both genders. Similar to pseudomenstruation, it’s not dangerous or uncommon. It occurs in about five percent of all newborns, and it can continue for up to two months. In European folklore, milk from newborn babies was called “witch’s milk,” and it was believed to have magical powers.

They Drink Their Own Urine
Shortly after conception, babies begin urinating in the womb. Yet, it has nowhere to go so they drink it. To be more precise, the urine is mixed with the amniotic fluid that cushions the baby in the uterus. By the third trimester of pregnancy, the fetus drinks almost a full liter of their amniotic fluid each day. Since a fetus does not require hydration or nutrition in the womb experts believe that this is merely practice for when they swallow and eat after birth. This means that we all spent the first several months of our lives drinking our own pee. Just so you know…fetal pooping also happens, even though it is rare. But that’s all we will say about that for now.

They Have No Kneecaps
Seriously! Well, kind of, but it’s complicated. When a doctor X-ray’s an infant’s legs, you cannot see anything where the kneecaps would normally appear. If anything, you might see little smudges or spots. This is because all bones begin as cartilage that hardens, or ossifies, over time. Kneecaps for over three to five years, and since cartilage never appears on X-rays, babies look like they do not have kneecaps. Not having hard kneecaps is beneficial for babies because the sponginess of the tissue helps to absorb the impact from frequent falls those babies endure as they learn to walk.

They Have More Bones Than Adults
Adults have only 206 bones, and newborns enter the world with 300. The explanation for this is similar to why they do not have kneecaps. After birth, some of a babies bones will fuse together as they harden. An example of this includes the skull. When babies are born, the skull is in multiple pieces that fuse together around the time a baby turns two.

They Form Taste Memories in Utero
Around four to five months after conception, babies can taste their amniotic fluid. While they may not be able to taste salt yet, they are still building memories of the other flavors they experience. It is currently believed that amniotic fluid is affected by the food that a mother eats, and the tastes a mother’s diet generates could influence a baby’s later preferences for food. For example, a mother who eats lots of garlic may introduce that flavor to her baby, and they may later enjoy eating garlicky dishes due to the memories they formed from tasting that flavor in the amniotic fluid.

They Are Covered in Hair
Most people have seen babies born with tiny amounts of hair on their head or a little peach fuzz covering their scalp. This is not the hair that we are talking about. While in the womb, babies develop a special type of hair that covers their entire body called lanugo. It is believed by child development experts that this fine, dark hair helps a baby to regulate their body temperature in utero. This means that it is perfectly normal if your baby is born looking like a miniature werewolf. If this happens, do not worry since most of this hair will fall off shortly before their birth and the following weeks after. If your baby is born without lanugo, really all that means is that it fell off early, and they probably ate it.

Weird stuff because most of us did not know this. Very normal in the baby world though.

Deciphering pregnancy dreams: First trimester

Deciphering pregnancy dreams: First trimester

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First you give birth to… your spouse. Next you have a fast escape(on a flaming motorcycle!). Eventually, you’re surrounded by a giant tsunami.

Certain dream ideas usually show up at specific times in pregnancy. For help deciphering what these dreams may be telling you, continue to read. The following fragment from Women’s Bodies, Women’s Dreams by psychologist Patricia Garfield give some first-trimester dreams and their potential explanations.
Return to understanding your child-bearing dreams index
Concerns about childbirth and parenthood
“I give birth to an adult-like child. He is like a tiny grown-up, dressed like an adult, and walking and speaking like an adult.” — Julia’s dream during her first trimester
Many first-time mothers, when they learn they are pregnant, dream of giving birth to a completely matured infant or grown child. Possibly, an older infant or child seems less scary than a delicate newborn to the unpracticed mother. Julia felt the adult baby in her dream mirrored her anxiety that she would have to return to her job and would therefore miss her baby growing up.
In the beginning of child-bearing, first-time mothers know little about the birthing experience; they usually feel worried. The fusion of wishes for a pain-free delivery and insufficient knowledge of the actual process result in dreams of the child “popping out” or simply materializing.
Self-consciousness about your altered shape

“I was driving my truck. As I drive, I have a rubber tire encircling my waist.” — Pamela Halfield’s dream while pregnant with her son.

A lady’s opinions concerning her figure might either increase or worsen during child-bearing. In Pamela’s dream it is apparent that the “spare tire” is her increasing stomach. Operating an automobile was usually a metaphor for the way the woman is going through life during the time; with the extra tire, Pamela’s movements were quite awkward. Pregnant ladies often see themselves operating buses, trucks, vans, or other automobiles which are harder to drive than cars during their dreams — mirroring their belief of difficult movements.

Scientists that have examined pregnant ladies’ dreams see repeated allusions to architecture in dreams, from small houses to gigantic skyscrapers. The dream places were usually areas where items were produced, such as a mill or a workshop, most likely mirroring the “construction” of an infant that is occurring within the woman’s uterus. Perhaps pregnant ladies dream about construction since they are sensitive to their “increasing interior stomach.” Often, the type of construction depicted in the woman’s dreams can increase in height as her pregnancy continues; one researcher found that dream constructions became bigger and more complicated the closer the woman was to labor; skyscrapers were particularly frequent.

Awareness of your amniotic fluid
“I’m within a country, probably a tropical jungle. I discover that the country’s rainfall was 700 inches! I’m shocked.” — Meghan’s dream

From fish tanks to washing machines to turbulent seas, a pregnant lady’s dreams refer to liquid throughout her child-bearing. A expectant mother will usually see herself swimming through her first-trimester dreams. When creatures are in first-trimester dreams, they are usually water animals such as fish and dolphins. The liquid in her dreams probably shows a knowledge of the water within her uterus. Liquid in dreams can take on a larger appearance as child-bearing continues. Near her labor time, a pregnant lady is more likely to dream of liquid as a sign of the “broken water” that heralds approaching labor. One lady dreamed near the start of her third trimester of carrying a large purse of huge ocean waves swelling and threatening her. We start our childhood as aquatic animals, floating in a pouch of fluid within our mother’s uterus. A pregnant woman is consuming liquids for both her and her infant.

No surprise that her dreams overflow with visions of water.

When is the best time to have sex if we're trying to conceive?

When is the best time to have sex if we’re trying to conceive?

By | PreConception, Preparing for Pregnancy | No Comments

When is the optimal time to have sex if we’re trying to conceive?

Timing is the key to everything. Sperm can live for three to five days, but the egg is only around for 12 to 24 hours. To increase the likelihood of conception, it’s critical to have sex every day in the days leading to ovulation and on the day you ovulate. A good approach is to have sex one to two days prior ovulation and again on the day you ovulate. In that way, there is a higher chance for there, to be a healthy supply of sperm waiting in the fallopian tube when an egg is released.

Certainly, exactly when a woman ovulates isn’t completely known. It depends partially on the length of your menstrual cycle. A woman usually ovulates about 14 days before her next period — not mid-cycle, as is commonly believed. If you have a 28-day cycle, which is the average, then you would ovulate about halfway through your cycle. However, if you have a 35-day cycle, you would ovulate around day 21, not day 17. (The first day of your period is day 1.)

How can I know when I’m ovulating?

The ovulation calculator can predict the moment when you’re most likely to be fertile. Some women can deduce when they ovulate, but most women don’t observe any changes at all. If you’re considering conceiving, attempt to record your cycle for a couple of months. Some signs of ovulation include:

+ Increased vaginal discharge that takes on a wetter, egg-white-type quality

+ A modest increase (about 0.4 to 1 degree Fahrenheit) in basal body temperature, or BBT, which you can detect by taking your temperature each morning before you get out of bed, one or two days after you ovulate. You can get a good feeling of your cycle if you track your BBT for a couple of months.

For details on how to record these symptoms, see our articles on detecting basal body temperature and cervical mucus and ovulation. Toni Weschler’s book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility: The Definitive Guide to Natural Birth Control, Pregnancy Achievement, and Reproductive Health, can also educate you to read your body’s symptoms.

If you still have difficulty pinpointing the definite date of ovulation, you could contemplate trying an ovulation predictor exam.

If my periods are irregular, will it be tougher for me to get pregnant?

Most women have about 12 periods a year, but some have fewer and others skip months or don’t get a period at all. Dramatic weight loss or gain, heavy exercise, and stress — all of these can cause intrusions in your period. It is more difficult to forecast ovulation if a woman’s period is irregular.

Say your cycle is 28 days one month, 21 days the next month, and 32 days the following month. A record of your menstrual cycles should be kept for several months. From your shortest cycle, you should subtract 17 and 11 from your longest cycle. The days in across the two are the ones in which you’re most likely to be fertile.

You should consider seeing a fertility specialist or your ob-gyn to check for other causes of an irregular cycle, such as excessive weight loss or an elevated prolactin level, polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), ovarian dysfunction, or thyroid disorder, if your cycles are irregular and more than 35 days apart or longer.

Can’t we just try and see what happens?

Admittedly, orgasms are not even needed to conceive. You don’t have to keep complicated logs or plot basal body temperature if you don’t want to. You should try having intercourse at least two to three times a week habitually, and the laws of averages probably will triumph.

Can Soy Isoflavones help me get pregnant?

Can Soy Isoflavones help me get pregnant?

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Regrettably, there is simply no clear-cut answer. There are women who claim that taking soy isoflavones did indeed help them to conceive. However, scientists have not studied the efficacy, and there isn’t any data to say whether it’s effective – or if it is safe.

Some experts even caution that ingesting highly concentrated soy products may hinder fertility, especially in ladies who have a “normal” menstrual cycle, meaning regular and under 35 days. In those women, soy supplements added to the diet could cause a woman’s natural cycle to go off-kilter.

The idea behind the theory is that soy isoflavones, which are a type of phytoestrogen (plant-derived estrogen), may work similarly to the fertility drug clomiphene (brand names Serophene and Clomid). They act on estrogen pathways in a woman’s body and can be used to manipulate the menstrual cycle. If your ovulation is irregular or non-existent, this could jump-start it. That being said, the remedies won’t help if your fertility problems are due to something else.

Theoretically, it works like this: estrogen receptors in your brain are blocked by the soy isoflavones, and your body thinks its estrogen levels are low. The body then kicks estrogen production into high gear. During this process, a group of eggs matures to prepare for one to be released during ovulation. After five days of taking the isoflavones, you stop. When this occurs, your body believes there is plenty of estrogen and so signals for ovulation.

Unfortunately, not all soy isoflavones react with the body in this way.

“Some soy isoflavones work as an estrogen blocker but others mimic estrogen – meaning the body thinks it is estrogen. This can cause health problems and make a hormone imbalance worse,” says Jill Blakeway, a licensed acupuncturist and clinical herbalist and co-author of Making Babies: A Proven Three-Month Program for Maximum Fertility. “Someone with uterine fibroids, for example, may find that her condition gets worse after taking soy isoflavones.”

Clomiphene does not present this danger because it is explicitly designed to act as an estrogen blocker, whereas soy isoflavones are more unpredictable in their impact.

On top of this, estrogen-like soy isoflavones may wreak havoc on other areas of the body, such as the ovaries, uterus and breasts. Research has shown that large doses of soy may cause cancerous cell overgrowth in these tissues. Eating too much may also lead to hypothyroidism.

Plus, says Blakeway, taking soy isoflavones in the first half of your cycle to boost estrogen production, then taking nothing in the second half to boost progesterone levels, may cause a hormone imbalance that damages fertility. That’s because the hormones linked in the menstrual cycle ebb and flow in a finely coordinated dance. If one is altered, it can affect the others.

Finally, soy isoflavones are sold as dietary supplements, which means they are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Because of this, they are not subject to the same meticulous testing that prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medicines are.

“There’s just no way to tell that what you’re taking contains the amount of soy (or other ingredients) you think it does,” says nutritionist Hillary M. Wright, director of nutrition counseling at the Domar Center for Mind/Body Health at Boston IVF and author of The PCOS Diet Plan: A Natural Approach to Health for Women With Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. Clomiphene, on the other hand, is governed by the FDA, has a long track record of safety, and is prescribed in specific amounts.

Soy isoflavones aren’t significantly more affordable than clomiphene, so saving money alone isn’t a good motivation to use them. The diet supplements generally cost $10 to $20 for one cycle. Clomiphene is covered by most insurance policies, so the expense would usually consist of just the co-payment (often in the range of $5 to $20). Without prescription drug coverage, one cycle of the brand-name drug Clomid costs around $60, while a cycle of the generic version (clomiphene citrate or Milophene) costs approximately half that – around $30. Of course, clomiphene does require a prescription and monitoring from a health professional.

If you are still interested in soy isoflavones to help with fertility, please consider the following advice:

• Any women over the age of 35 should seek medical intervention right away rather than exploring alternative options like soy that may not be practical or effective, says Shari Brasner, a professor and ob-gyn at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and author of Advice From a Pregnant Obstetrician.
• Soy isoflavones should be utilized only if you ovulate irregularly or not at all. Do not use them if you have any health issues such as uterine fibroids, uterine polyps, endometriosis, fibrocystic breasts, or thyroid disease, as those could be made worse by taking concentrated phytoestrogens,
• Likewise, it’s wise to avoid soy isoflavones if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS)– even though clomiphene is in fact often prescribed for women with this condition. Phytoestrogens can aggravate PCOS, says acupuncturist Blakeway. Clomiphene is a safer bet for women with PCOS since specialists know exactly how the drug acts and it has better-expected results.
• The recommended dose to take is 80 to 200 mg per day on cycle days 3 to 7 or 5 to 9 (just as you would if you were taking prescription clomiphene), advises Blakeway. Always use the lowest dose possible, and don’t change it during the five-day period. Moreover, stick to supplements – it is simply not realistic to try to get the advised amount through food alone.
• Always speak with your doctor about possible interactions between soy and any medications you’re taking, including thyroid medications, antibiotics and clomiphene.
• You may experience short-term side effects. These include fatigue, headaches, breast tenderness, and digestive disorders. Taking the supplements before going to bed may help decrease the impact of these side effects.

Signs of a Bad Doctor. What to Watch Out For!

Signs of a Bad Doctor. What to Watch Out For!

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In old movies, bad doctors are easily identifiable – their offices are typically sleazy and their disheveled appearance is often furtive. These traits of a bad doctor may not be as noticeable in real life, however.

Thanks to the improved medical education curriculum and oversight, today’s doctors are highly educated professionals with solid credentials. “The differences between good and bad are more subtle, more personal, harder to detect but just as critical for you,” says George LeMaitre, a surgeon and author of How to Choose a Good Doctor.

Laurel Schultz, a pediatrician in the San Francisco Bay Area, claims that doctors who are seen as “bad” may be overworked, bored, or burned out – or a combination of the three. It is also possible that they do not enjoy their profession. “Their eyes are glazed over,” says Schultz. “They’ve lost their intellectual curiosity. They really don’t care, and it shows.”

Jennifer Shu, a spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics and an Atlanta-based pediatrician, encourages patients to trust their instincts. “Go with your gut reaction. If you don’t feel good about a physician, go somewhere else. Remember that your best friend’s doctor may not be right for you and your family.”

If you have doubts about your or your child’s doctor, here are seven key things to consider before making a judgement.

An indifferent or uncaring attitude

It is important to remember that while you don’t need to be best friends with your doctor, you want one who is at least personable. Try to avoid doctors who are condescending or have no recollection of your issues from previous visits.

Although seemingly obvious, it is appropriate to note that medical degrees, marketing campaigns, and a fancy address may overshadow the fact that a doctor’s professional performance is not up to par. As surgeon LeMaitre points out, “caring and curing cannot be separated.”

While watching the pediatrician interact with your child, take the time to notice if he or she makes an effort to comfort your child. We all know that going to the doctor as a child is scary, so the interaction between the pediatrician and the doctor can make a big impact.

It is comforting for children if the doctor gets down to their level in order to explain what is going on and why it is happening. Expressing genuine caring and interest in the child is important. Experience and recommendations aside, if your child’s doctor does not pay attention to your child’s fears, or they spend most of the appointment ignoring the child while talking to you, consider looking for someone who is more compassionate.

Doesn’t listen, unresponsive

It is crucial for doctors to listen to patients and be open to concerns and feedback.

It is important to be humble, says ob-gyn William Barth Jr., chief of the maternal-fetal medicine division at Massachusetts General Hospital. (Barth also chairs the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ committee on obstetrics practice.)

“As a patient, if I go to a doctor who says, ‘I know what to do, this is the only way to do it, and you should just listen to me,’ I’ll be out the door in 30 seconds. I want someone who takes a considered and open-minded approach, not someone who is dogmatic and overconfident,” Barth says.

Good doctors take time out of their busy schedules to answer any questions from their patients. It is not a good sign if the patient feels like their questions or concerns are not important or stupid.

Patients should expect everyone in the doctor’s office, from the receptionist to the nurses, to be courteous and responsive. This means that if a doctor is not able to return a phone call in a reasonable amount of time, an advice nurse should make contact with the patient to address any concerns.

Lack of knowledge

Give second thoughts to your doctor if they do not seem to be knowledgeable about cutting edge technology or medical breakthroughs. Medical literature should be followed closely by doctors in order to be able to educate patients about their health. Doctors should be able to explain the results of medical tests, keep patients informed about drugs prescribed, and provide nutrition and other health advice.

Don’t expect an answer to every problem or a complete diagnosis at each appointment. It is within reason, however, to expect your doctor to find the answers and get back to you.

If it seems like there are a lot of errors made by either the doctor or their staff, it may be a good idea to find another provider. When there is miscommunication throughout the office or wrong tests are ordered, this can be a bad sign. Although everyone makes mistakes, repeated oversights or routine sloppiness could mean that your doctor is likely to make a significant mistake that could affect your health.

Poor recommendations

Make sure your doctor has good reviews. Do some research online to see if anyone has made negative comments about this doctor that continue to pop up and create a theme.

Word of mouth is a powerful way to find the right (or wrong) doctor. Trusted existing primary physicians who know the doctor are a great place to start. Online research of consumer review websites of physicians is a good idea as well. Reading others’ opinions can help you know that you have found the right doctor to trust.

Your state medical board has information on major offenses committed by physicians in your state. Visit the Federation for State Medical Boards website to get the contact information for your state’s medical board.

Always pushes further tests and procedures

A doctor should recommend additional tests or procedures if they’re warranted, but do not let this happen all the time.

Some doctors are excessively cautious, says Schultz, the Bay Area pediatrician. “It may mean they don’t trust their own judgment,” she says. “If your child has pneumonia and the doctor orders a chest X-ray, that’s fine. But it shouldn’t happen every time you come in.”

If you second guess if a procedure is necessary, get another opinion. Consider it to be a red flag is your doctor does not agree with your desire to obtain a second opinion, says Barth, the ob-gyn.

“When I was a brand-new doctor, I think I was a little defensive when my patients told me they were seeking a second opinion, but now I welcome it. It means the patient is thinking clearly about his or her medical care, which is a good thing,” he says.

Disrespectful of your time

Don’t expect to wait more than about 20 minutes to see a doctor. An hour wait is completely unreasonable. “There will be emergencies, of course, but if you routinely wait an hour or more, I’d look around for a new doctor,” says Shu, the Atlanta pediatrician.

If you are new to a medical practice, try calling the office a few times to see how long you have to wait on hold before you are able to get answers to your questions.

Tip: Schedule appointments in the morning to avoid a long wait time. If possible, avoid scheduling routine checkups in the winter, because this is the height of the cold and flu season.

Spotty credentials and affiliations

Most physicians are board certified. While this may not guarantee competence, it is an important seal of approval. Unless a doctor has just graduated from medical school and has yet to take the board exams, not having a board certification is a warning sign that something’s not right.

It is important that your doctor is affiliated with a hospital that has a good reputation. This information can be found online.

Shu doesn’t think that where a doctor received his or her medical diploma should carry a lot of weight, however. “If a person graduated from medical school and passed his or her medical board exams, I think those are good enough screening tools,” she says.

While education and credentials are vital, Schultz says, don’t ignore personal characteristics that may be difficult to measure: “The kind of doctor you are has more to do with your curiosity and compassion as an individual than anything else.”