Laughter is Always the Best Medicine

Laughter is the best medicineWe’ve just survived another Blue Monday – the most depressing day of the year – so the arrival of ‘Global Belly Laugh Day’ this week was most welcome!

Belly Laugh Day is not just a day for having a good ol’ chuckle, but a much needed reminder for us to do it more often. Because laughter really IS the best medicine.

It does so much more than make you feel good mentally – laughter induces actual physical changes in your body. Blood flow is increased; as is your intake of oxygen-rich air which stimulates your heart, lungs and muscles; it aids muscle relaxation, reducing some of the physical symptoms of stress; boosts our immune system and improves efficiency, mental focus and concentration. Yes, to all that please!

Best of all laughter is FREE! And available to you every day – even on the roughest of parenting days.

You don’t even need to rely on humor, jokes or comedy for belly laughs – you can fake it yourself with Laughter Yoga. Have you heard of that? Google Offices use it. Even Oprah Winfrey swears by it.

Laughter Yoga is a practice of prolonged voluntary laughter – because voluntary or ‘forced’ laughter still delivers the same physiological and psychological goods as spontaneous laughter.  And trust us, (we’ve tried it), it might start off as fake laughing, but you end up feeling so ridiculous that it soon turns in to a genuine fit of the giggles!

There are an increasing number of laughter clubs across the US where you can practice laughter yoga in groups, but you can also do it at home alone, or with a partner. Take a look at this video and you’ll get the idea. Here’s also a list of 150 laughter exercises to try yourself at home – our personal favorite is forcing yourself to ‘laugh’ Beethoven’s Fifth: Ha ha ha haaaaaaaa, ha ha ha haaaa!! We’re giggling even typing it.

In a nutshell, laughter yoga not only offers every parent a simple way to relieve stress, it also gives them a license to act like a crazy spontaneous toddler again! So, what’s not to love!? Your kids will find you hysterical – and most likely join in too.

Go on, give it a try! Find the jolly in every day – you’ll probably feel very silly, but our bet is, you’ll probably feel pretty great too!

 

A Rose By Any Other Name

Experts are predicting a ‘full-blown baby naming revolution’ this coming year, with names that will ‘defy convention’, boast unique spellings and also ‘non-traditional gender identities.’

We’ll be seeing names like Thor, Jupiter, Luna, and Pandora drawn from multicultural mythology; names of feminist heroines like Ada (Lovelace), Emmeline (Pankhurst), Bell (Hooks), Eleanor (Roosevelt), Rosa (Parks); a rise in preppy names like Oakes, Collins, Anderson, Kensington and Winchester; and a whole heap of names beginning with the letter ‘O’ – Octavia, Oakley, Orson, Otis, Omar and Otto.

See any you like? The full list of 2017 names can be found here:

Some people just know don’t they? They have a name picked out even before conception. Others wait to meet their new bundle before settling on a name.  And while there is no right or wrong way to pick a baby’s name, there is definitely a lot of pressure that comes with the territory. After all, it’s just a little something you are giving them…FOREVER! Eek!

On top of the pressure, there’s also those suggestions (perhaps guilt trips) from family and friends, not to mention their unwanted reactions when you test drive a few current contenders with them. Prepare for brutal honesty and crushing disappointment!

While we believe the most important thing is absolutely to choose a name that YOU love, we also believe that everyone can always use a few objective pointers. Here are a few simple considerations to keep in mind:

  • How original is your chosen name? Is it so unique that you risk mispronunciations and a lifetime of your child correcting how others say it/spell it? How would you have felt with that?
  • Have you checked what the initials of your child’s name will make….for example Anthony Adam Stevens (ASS) or Robert Sole aka Mr. R Sole….Oops!
  • Are you happy with how the first name can be shortened? Does it rhyme with anything unfortunate? Kids at school will always be creative!
  • Does the name age well? Princess might be a cute name when they are small, but imagine them in a job interview or running a board meeting with that name.
  • Have you checked the meaning of the name? Make sure you are happy with what your name represents as well as how its sound.
  • Finally, don’t feel pressurised to take a family name. If you don’t like it, don’t take it. But first have a quick think, could you use it as a middle name to appease? Or even use the relative in question’s own middle name as an alternative? It’s worth exploring all options before an outright dismissal, right?

Good luck to all those parents-to-be out there making a shortlist! We look forward to seeing what the 2017 revolution brings!

Preterm Birth Has Increased in the US

preterm birthNovember 17th is World Prematurity Day.

In fact, March of Dimes is working hard throughout the whole month of November to put premature birth in the spotlight, claiming it as Prematurity Awareness Month. We couldn’t be cheering more loudly for their wonderful work!

In a month that will see many national landmarks turned purple for the cause, March of Dimes kicked off their campaign with the 2016 Premature Birth Report Card, – a simple way of getting people talking about the problems, risk factors and ways in which we can reduce premature birth.

Unfortunately, the 2016 Report Card reveals that the nation’s preterm rate has worsened for the first time in eight years. While the US as a whole earned a “C” grade, California individually got a “B”. Washington, Oregon, Vermont and New Hampshire were the only states with an “A”.

“The March of Dimes research shows an unfair burden of premature birth among specific racial and ethnic groups as well as geographic areas,” says Dr. Jennifer L. Howse, president of the March of Dimes. “The March of Dimes strives for a world where every baby has a fair chance, yet we see this is not the reality for many mothers and babies. Babies in this country have different chances of surviving and thriving simply based on the circumstances of their birth.”

Premature babies (born before 37 weeks) come with an increased chance of health issues, and may face long-term problems that affect the brain, lungs, hearing or vision. Throughout November, March of Dimes draw attention to these challenges, but also the lifesaving research, treatments and support out there for families. Let’s do our part this month and join the global movement – let’s keep the conversation and support going!

This recent Huff Post story of ‘Preemie Prince’, born at 25 weeks had us all ugly crying at Babies in Bloom – what a remarkable little man! Small but mighty. What wonderfully brave and proud parents! And what a little beacon of hope he is!

The fight, the support and the research in to prematurity must go on! Spread the word.

For the full 2016 March of Dimes Report, click here: http://www.marchofdimes.org/materials/premature-birth-report-card-united-states.pdf

Packing Your Birth Center Bag

packing birth center bagSo, there’s only a handful of weeks left before you welcome your little one in to the world. Excitement doesn’t even begin to cover it!  You might also be wondering… “What do I pack in our birth bag?”… especially if it will be your first experience in a birth center.

It’s common to stay at a birth center around four to six hours after the birth, meaning you won’t need to pack as much as you might for a longer hospital stay. There are also more home comforts at a birth center – from full kitchen facilities to bath tubs to soak in – which again can influence what you might want to bring with you.

To help you get started, we’ve pulled together a recommended checklist for you. Use it as a rough guide and simply add to the core list to personalize it for you and your partner. Remember, if you have any questions or worries, don’t hesitate to call your birth center – they are there to help you get the birth you’ve always dreamed of!

Things to pack for you:

  • Your birth plan
  • Insurance card and phone number
  • Comfortable clothes (and shoes / slippers) to wear during labor, (and perhaps a sports bra / bikini top if a water birth is your preference)
    • Top tip: if you are planning a photographer to capture this special arrival, think solid block colors and minimal logos for both you and your partner
  • Headband and hair ties to keep hair out of your face during delivery
  • Favorite drinks – think juice, coconut water or electrolyte drinks – and nourishing snacks for both labor and postpartum.
    • A lot of birth centers like ours, have cooking facilities for you to use, so you can even some of your home cooked favorites with you for a well-earned post labor treat!
  • Essential oils and massage oils
  • Back labor massage tools
  • Rice sock / heating pad
  • Books, magazine, games for relaxation
  • Hand-held fan
  • Your preferred toiletries  – we’d recommend some soothing lip balm too.
  • Glasses / contact lenses and solution
  • Phone / camera / video camera, plus chargers
  • Call list (if you’re old school and like to have a hard copy)
  • Music player – for your relaxing labor playlist
  • A fresh nightgown, nursing bras and spare old dark underwear for post delivery
  • Maternity pads
  • Comfortable going home clothes
  • Loose change for unknown expenses, like parking fees. Just in case.

 

Things to pack for Baby: 

  • A few different outfits and hats – including accessories for newborn photos, plus the outfit you want baby to go home in
  • Blankets, including a swaddle blanket
  • Cloth diapers (if choosing to go cloth) or disposable diapers
  • Wipes
  • Burp cloths
  • A gift from baby for big brother or sister for that precious first meeting
  • Infant car seat
    • We’d advise playing around with the seat prior to baby’s arrival, just to ensure you feel confident installing the seat in the car, as well as securing baby safely in the seat. If in doubt, go to a car seat inspection spot for installation support.

Just to be super prepared, you might also want to pack a hospital bag in case of transport, consisting of additional spare clothes, pads, toiletries, diapers, wipes etc.
We hope this helped. Good luck mamas to be, you will be great. You’ve totally got this!