Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Cloth Diaper Update

In May of this year (2011) we started using cloth diapers again, and I said I would keep you all updated on how it goes. I'm happy to report that its going better than ever! Two new things that I tried:

1) Imse Vimse liners: toddler size. These liners are generously sized and very durable. They were perfect for Samson! No more messy cleanup with #2! If he didn't soil it (just wet) they could absolutely be reused when they came out of the washing machine!

2) Olive oil. Some of my friends who cloth diaper their little ones recommended trying olive oil for diaper rash as it is safe to use with cloth diapers. Just a couple drops spread thinly worked splendidly! I haven't had to use it much, since Adelynn hasn't had any diaper rash since her first couple weeks. I've been changing her often enough, she usually has no redness.

I've been able to transition to tossing the whole kit and caboodle in the washing machine now. I haven't been needing to use any rash creams. I haven't even been needing the fleece liners lately, but when I do I can put them right in with the rest. Adelynn's exclusively breastfed for now, so her poops wash right out.

I was forced to continue the disposables for Samson at bedtime, since he is such a heavy wetter over the course of the 12 hours he sleeps at night. Happy to report he is doing well wearing underwear during the day, though!

I don't think there was any problem with an allergic reaction to the detergent after all. I realized I am supposed to put a little non-chlorine bleach in the wash with the diapers once a month to ensure there's not a lot of bacteria sticking around. I had used them for several months without bleaching when the problems started to creep in. Its important to have the diapers sanitary! BumGenius or FuzziBunz detergent both seem to be just fine. They're clean enough, the cloths double as burp cloths at our house.

On a side note, the econobum diapers were too big on Adelynn for her first few weeks. When I started using them on her, I used newborn size Proraps for the covers. I can use the econobum covers and cloths now that she's a couple months old. She actually has a lot of problems with "diaper blowouts" and soiling her clothing when I use the disposables. The cloth diapers seems to hold it all in much better.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Words of Encouragement for Labor

I found some more song lyrics that got me really excited about having them read to me while I am in labor. This song is about being astounded by the fact that I am one of God's creations and his Grace.  I printed the lyrics off, and we'll see if I find it soothing at all (or who knows? I may find it annoying, but worth a shot).

Spirit Speaks” by Know Hope Collective

Your Spirit speaks
It moves in me
And I’m awakened to Your love
You’re drawing me
On to my knees
And I’m astounded by Your love

You spoke life into my lungs
You are the air I breathe
You are the air I breathe
Still You move inside of me
You are the song I sing
You are the song I sing Jesus
You cover me
With arms that reach
And I’m amazed by Your sweet grace
You set me free
And You washed me clean
And I’m forgiven by Your grace

With every breath I breathe
With every song I sing
I want to shout it out
Lord I am listening
To every word You speak
I’ll go where You will lead
To love the least of these
My greatest offering

Cloth Diaper Update

I said I would keep you all posted on how the cloth diapering is going, so here goes!

First, I want to talk about issues related to diaper rash:

1) I now have a stash of fleece liners that I use regularly as a wetness barrier with the econobum cloth diapers. Some of them are the Bummis brand and some are ones I made myself out of scrap fleece. I've discovered that it is best to wash these separately from the cloth diapers, since the job of the liners is not only to protect my son from rash caused by wetness, but also to protect the cloth diaper from any ointments or creams we use. (Rash creams make cloth diapers less absorbent over time. If I wash my liners with the diapers, I am essentially washing the cloth diapers with the rash cream!) I "stripped" the diapers of any rash cream with some good old Dawn, hot water and a stiff brush, so we're back to business as usual.

2) I had been having some problems with leaking that I wasn't before. This has partly been remedied by the stripping I mentioned above. At night, even the "night time Pull-ups" are not enough to hold it all, so I've ended up putting "night time" disposable diapers on him at bedtime.

3) The other thing I noticed is a higher incidence of diaper rash with the BumGenius diaper detergent than the FuzziBunz diaper detergent. I'm wondering if my son may be allergic to something in the BumGenius detergent...? These are the only types of detergent I've tried thus far. Another reason I prefer the FuzziBunz detergent is that the package says it is formulated to work with any water type (we have hard water, which can cause mineral buildup on the diapers over time).

So, between changing him often during the daytime (he's 2 and I change him 5 to 7 times), finding the right detergent, and using the fleece liners, I have noticed a significant decrease in diaper rash.

The other issue is cleaning up poop!

Bowel movements from babies who are exclusively breastfed should wash right out in the washing machine. It is ideal (for your washing cycle and the environment) to put bowel movements from solids-fed babies in the toilet. Samson has adult-like poops that plop right out of the diaper and into the toilet...most of the time. The problems arise when there are days that he has very soft stools! My best solution for this has been to keep a flushable paper liner in the diaper during the time of day I expect him to have a bowel movement (his are fairly predictable). Then, I am able to remove most--if not all--of the stools from the diaper by removing the flushable liner and flushing it. When all else fails, I use a grocery bag over my hand to remove as much of the solids as possible, then throw the grocery bag in the trash.

So that is where we are at now. I will be sure to post another update after the arrival of our newest addition. She's due to arrive any day now!

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Hymns for Labor and Birth

I'm sort of in the process of compiling a few songs play during this next birth. Most people know that it is a good idea to try to relax as much as possible during labor, but a birth class instructor once told me that a better word than "relax" would be "surrender". I think I've found the perfect hymn for labor (the refrain, in particular). Hopefully someone will sing this to me... or at least pray the lyrics over me... or at the very least, play the darn track on the CD!

I Surrender All

1.      All to Jesus I surrender; 
        all to him I freely give; 
        I will ever love and trust him, 
        in his presence daily live. 
        I surrender all, I surrender all, 
        all to thee, my blessed Savior, 
        I surrender all. 

2.      All to Jesus I surrender; 
        humbly at his feet I bow, 
        worldly pleasures all forsaken; 
        take me, Jesus, take me now. 

3.      All to Jesus I surrender; 
        make me, Savior, wholly thine; 
        fill me with thy love and power; 
        truly know that thou art mine. 

4.      All to Jesus I surrender; 
        Lord, I give myself to thee; 
        fill me with thy love and power; 
        let thy blessing fall on me. 

5.      All to Jesus I surrender; 
        now I feel the sacred flame. 
        O the joy of full salvation! 
        Glory, glory, to his name! 

During the birth of my son, I had brought some world music to listen to. This turned out to be an awful idea, because the heavy percussion beats were nerve-wracking. This time, I've specifically chosen Jadon Lavik's version of this hymn, because it seemed to be the most relaxing one.

I welcome your comments. What songs did you listen to while in labor? Were you annoyed at the thought of listening to music?


Friday, August 12, 2011

Sample of my Birth Requests for the Hospital

Here it is so far...

This is what we'll be giving to the nurses and midwives. At this point it sounds like the request for vitamin K drops might be out, depending on the pediatrician/availability. I have made a few minor changes to this document since my son was born, and of course, this is always a living document and work-in-progress. Feel free to comment.

Birth Requests Thank you, Samaritan Hospital Team, for helping us make this a special experience!

During Labor and Delivery Please knock before entering the room

Jacuzzi Tub I prefer to labor in the water for as long as possible.

Vaginal Exams Please ask each time before examining me, I am easily startled!

Pitocin, Analgesics and Anesthetics Please DO NOT offer these. We will discuss the need for these with our doula and midwife. We would like a natural childbirth modified only by conditions that directly threaten the health or safety of the mother or child.

IV We would like to avoid the use of an IV, if possible, and prefer to hydrate with electrolyte drinks. If the IV becomes necessary, please allow alternation between glucose and saline.

Monitoring We would like to avoid as much monitoring as possible. Please allow intermittent monitoring so that I may maintain mobility and change positions often. Please allow us to turn the machines and lights down to create a less stressful environment. We may ask to use the Doppler in addition to the fetal monitoring system to gain a more accurate picture of the baby's heart rate.

Natural Progression We would like to allow our labor to progress naturally, without pressure to speed it up for any time constraints, unless there are circumstances that truly threaten the mother or child. I may decide to change positions often and hope the nurses and midwives will facilitate any birthing positions I feel I would like to try.

Episiotomy We would like to avoid an episiotomy with the help of perineal massage, warm compresses, and taking the time to push slowly during key moments.

In Case of Cesarean Epidural. Please suture the layers one at a time. Give Toradol post-op.

Immediately After Delivery We request that the baby's cord be clamped and clipped only after it has stopped pulsating, or at least 2 minutes after delivery. Please place the baby on my chest and allow 45 minutes for nursing and bonding before bathing the baby etc. The father would like to clip the cord.

Routine Tests We ask that our baby not receive Vitamin K shot or eye ointment, please. We would like to request Vitamin K drops as an alternative. Please delay routine testing procedures for 45 minutes, and check with us before they are done.

Circumcision In the event that our baby is a boy and choose to have a circumcision performed during our stay: we would like a non-Gomco clamp circumcision and a local anesthesia applied.

Vaccinations/Medications We would like to waive the erythromyacin ointment.

No Bottles or Pacifiers, please!

I tried to keep this pretty simple, only mentioning the things that were really important to us. The nice thing is that several of the items on here were also questions on the hospital's pre-admission paperwork. Of course we can't know exactly how things will happen. I've removed my midwives', husband's and doula's names for their privacy. It all fits nicely on one page :) I've also written a document with requests for my doula and husband during the labor...but I think I'll wait to post those.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Orgasmic Birth

Last night I watched "Orgasmic Birth: The Best-Kept Secret". This is the best natural childbirth video I have watched thus far, and I highly recommend it. You just have to watch it!

I kept finding myself saying,"That's so true! Preach it!"

My only complaint is that I feel the title is a bit of a misnomer. Certainly prepare yourself to see videos of orgasmic births, but it's not the primary focus of the film. The primary goal is to give the viewer a brief, well-rounded education on why to choose natural childbirth.

One of my favorite parts was the "By The Numbers" extra section on the DVD. I'd be curious to get any feedback from my friends in the medical profession, since you'll probably understand the statistics in a different way than most viewers will.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Pregnant in America

Just finished watching "Pregnant in America". This isn't so much a review of the film, as it is a record of interesting things I wrote down as I was watching.
I have two things to say first: #1) Yes, this film does sort of try to make you so afraid of the medical establishment that you'll want to give birth at home (but its not completely unwarranted). And #2) If this film doesn't make you cry a little, you must have a heart of stone!

At the beginning of the film, the documentarian is interviewing random people on the street about hospital birth. One woman says,"I don't know how have a baby on my own. If I did, I'd do it on my own." This made me so sad! I wanted to tell her, "No! Of course you know how to give birth on your own. You just don't know you that you do!"

I love it that they interview Ina May Gaskin in this film, because she is totally my hero and the mother of modern midwifery. If you read her, she will totally be your hero too. She shares the words for "midwife" in various languages. I love the French word: 'sage-femme' meaning 'wise woman.' That's exactly what a midwife really is.

The U.S. ranks 28th on the list of infant mortality rates in the world. What the heck? Why is that? How is the U.S. medical system different than other developed nations? The premise of this film is that our high infant mortality rate is due to our high rate of epidurals, high rate of "convenience cesareans", and high rate of "convenience inductions". Personally, I'd argue the root of this stuff is women not educating themselves about labor/delivery/risks/options and also corrupt doctors. (As a side note, I want to point out that we have no system of recording maternal morbidity rates and/or their relation to hospital interventions).
In the '70s the cesarean rate in the U.S. was something like 5 - 7%. In recent years its been something like 23 - 29%. In certain hospitals, its rumored to be as high 80%! The World Health Organization (WHO) warns us not to exceed a rate of 15%. Part of the reason the rate has gotten so high is because it is "more efficient". A C-section takes 20 minutes, whereas a doctor might have to wait as much as 30 hours for a woman to labor and deliver on her own. The people we're asking to care for laboring women aren't trained in attending normal births; they're trained to be surgeons. Sometimes they're just looking for a reason to perform surgery.

We like to think a woman wouldn't put her baby in danger for the sake of convenience (but Victoria Beckham scheduled her children's births around her husband's soccer schedule).

One expert in the film states that 50% of women who are induced end up with a C-section (though it doesn't state whether that number is for artificial induction or all types of inductions). From 1990 to 2000 the rate of women who were induced shot up from 10% to 20%. During the same 10-year period, the number of babies born Monday thru Friday shot way up. Hmm, you don't think doctors would tell women they need to be induced when they really don't...do you? (Watch the film and see for yourself!). Marsden Wagner from the WHO says,"Artificial induction of labor is one of the most serious and dangerous interventions you can make and should only be done if there's and important medical risk." When you look at the list of risks associated with induction, its just plain unethical that doctors are inducing women with drugs at the rate they are. A personal note on ethics: a friend of mine whose husband went to a well-respected medical school, told me they only spent about one afternoon teaching their future doctors about ethics in medicine. Groan. There is one section of the film in particular that discusses corrupt doctors, and it made me sick to my stomach.

The case for home birth
Animals choose the safest place give birth to their young. The basic need for all mammals to give birth is privacy--not to feel observed. Dogs, horses, cats...any mammal giving birth will go find a comfortable, safe place to hide. Human women are no different.

I saw in another film that primates who have a C-section will reject the baby and not care for it. When a woman gives birth she releases a complex cocktail of hormones--love hormones, but having a C-section interferes with the release of those hormones. I wonder if these unnecessary C-sections are robbing women of a special feeling of bonding with their baby?

The evil insurance companies
If you've ever watched the news in the last 5 years, I probably don't need to tell you that insurance companies and drug companies can be pretty evil. This film goes into that fact in some depth that I won't. One woman said,"We're victims of our insurance, so whatever [our insurance company] says we have to do is what we have to do."
I feel absolutely blessed that the insurance we have assigns us to a military obstetric office in which I am cared for through my pregnancy and delivery by wonderful midwives--unless there's an actual reason for me to see an OB/GYN!

All this to say: No, not all doctors are corrupt, and No, you're not doing it wrong if you choose to have your birth in a hospital with an epidural, but please be informed! Your doctor probably isn't going to list every single risk associated with every intervention they might do in the hospital, and you're certainly not going to be in a state to learn about it and respond rationally when you're in labor. So please--I beg of you--inform yourselves!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Cloth diaper update

We did cloth diapering for my son's first few months of life when we had access to a cloth diaper delivery service. Then we had some major life changes and quit cloth diaper for about 2 years. Now he's in the potty training stage, but we're expecting a new baby this fall.

About a month and a half ago, we made the investment of $100 to get two cases of econobum diapers. Since our utilities are included at a flat rate in our rent, washing the cloth diapers doesn't cost us anything extra. We just have to buy cloth diaper laundry detergent and flushable liners, which are costing us a tiny fraction of the cost of buying cases of disposable diapers. (These diapers fit babies from 8 lb up to 35 lb, and will hopefully hold up through the time our second child gets potty trained).

Here's my latest take on this whole cloth diapering thing: Yes, It is a LITTLE more difficult for me than disposables, but I'm not ready to give up on it. Today's cloth diapers are much easier to use than the old fashioned ones, and with the money we're saving, I might even buy some of the fancier types of cloth diapers that are EVEN easier to use.

I think folding these prefolded diapers is about the same amount of work for me as picking up a case of disposables at the store (because there's only 2 dozen cloth diapers and I moved the changing station to next to the dryer!). And washing them is only a little more work than toting bags of dirty disposables out to the garage. I think its good for his potty-training that he sees me flush the poopies "bye bye" down the toilet (I know...I'm taking the potty training thing really slow). And every time I'm frustrated with putting the cloth diapers on, I just remember how much MONEY we are saving and how much we're AREN'T putting into the landfill.

The only problem I'm seeing is that Samson's getting a little more diaper rash. It seems it always only appears overnight, on evenings when he's had a lot of liquid and I didn't get him out of his crib to get changed right away in the morning. The diaper rash doesn't appear during the day, because I change him often during the day. Some people say a piece of fleece between his skin and the diaper would help keep his skin dry, so I think we either need to buy fleece liners for night time, disposables for night time, or start limiting his liquids in the evening! (Or, yes, get this kid potty trained!)

I'm going to keep using disposables when we go on long trips, but I'm going to keep trying and I'll let you all know how it goes!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Business of Being Born

Just finished watching "The Business of Being Born".

While I think they could've talked more about pathologies and the clinical perspective of things, I don't really think they exaggerate anything in the film--slightly if at all. You'd have to have a pretty good understanding of some things that can go wrong in birth in order to get the full picture. That in mind, I readily agree with the central message of the film that--for the most part--labor is a normal process and C-sections are major surgery. I'd love to see more women, OBs and hospitals embrace the movement to have more midwife care, fewer interventions/cesareans, and more informed moms. This is an outstanding documentary to watch if you're just beginning to inform yourself about childbirth. There are some great books like 'Ina May's Guide to Childbirth', 'The Thinking Woman's Guide to a Better Birth' or 'Hypnobirthing' that take a more in-depth look at the topic (if you're curious).

Personally, I feel absolutely blessed that the obstetric office the military is sending me to understands that midwife care is the very best thing for women who fall into the low-risk category. The midwives I've been seeing are very open to what I want for my ideal labor and delivery. I will let you know how it all goes down in September!

If you've watched the film, I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Why is facing rearward so important?

Wow. I found this great answer to that question on carseat.org...

"Babies have heavy heads and fragile necks. The neck bones are soft, and the ligaments are stretchy. If the baby is facing forward in a frontal crash (the most common and most severe type of crash), the body is held back by the straps, but the head is not. The head is thrust forward, stretching the neck. Older children and adults wearing safety belts may end up with temporary neck injuries. But a baby's neck bones are soft and actually separate during a crash, and the spinal cord can tear. It's like yanking an electrical plug out of a socket by the cord and breaking the wires."

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Personal Concerns about Becoming a Two-child Family

As we get closer to the big day that our family of 3 becomes a family of 4, I've been asking my friends who parent multi-child households how things are different the second or third time around. The response so far has basically been that, yes its hard, but everyone will adjust soon enough. The main concern on my mind is how will my 2 year old deal with my need to spend such a great amount of time nursing a newborn? How will we keep from getting really upset with each other? He's not an especially needy or obnoxious child by any means, but he's still a 2 year old. I like this response from an interview with Elyse Eberstein, MSW, LE by Heather Turgeon of Babble.com :

Talk out loud about needing to divide your attention.
When you’re helping your older child use the bathroom, say to the newborn (who doesn’t have a clue what you’re talking about, but it’s okay — this is for the benefit of the toddler), “I’m helping Emma right now, so I can’t nurse you until we come back from the bathroom.” That way, when you say it in reverse — telling your toddler she has to wait while you help the newborn, it feels like equal treatment.

My grandmother-in-law told me that she was very worried while expecting her second child, about how she would find the love in her heart for two children. She loved her first so much, how could she give that much love to another baby? She said, "It comes. The love comes." She eventually raised seven children and found her heart loving all of them.

Whether you're a parent of a full house, or just working on number 2, what kinds of concerns were on your mind during pregnancy? How did your older child(ren) react to a new baby in the house? How did the spacing of your children's ages affect those worries? How did you cope? I welcome your comments!

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Considering Natural Childbirth Options?

As of this posting, I'm 24 weeks pregnant with our second child. I'm hoping for a water birth. Wondering what that is? I love the simplicity of this great article on Parents.com with 9 brief explanations of different options for natural childbirth. And each one shares a testimonial from a real mom! Check out the slideshow here.

Monday, June 06, 2011

8 Reasons to Wait it out until Your Due Date

Originally Published by
Parents Magazine

You wouldn't take a cake out of the oven before it's ready, but how about that bun in the oven? For some pregnant women, the answer is "Sure!" In fact, 10 to 15 percent of all births in the U.S. are "early elective" deliveries (meaning prior to 39 weeks' gestation, via cesarean section or induction, without a clear medical reason), two new studies find -- and some hospitals report that number is as high as 44 percent.

But, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) staunchly advises against elective deliveries before 39 weeks. Term has long meant between 37 and 41 weeks, but this is a time frame for allowing normal, spontaneous labor to start without intervention, explains Caroline Signore, M.D., an ob-gyn with the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute for Child Health and Human Development, in Bethesda, Maryland. Elective, early deliveries can lead to problems for mom and baby that are uncommon in spontaneous deliveries. Because of this, many health experts refer to all babies born at 37 or 38 weeks as early term. Of course, if you have a condition such as preeclampsia or diabetes, whose risks outweigh the risks of an early delivery, it may be best to welcome the baby early -- and you should feel no guilt about that. But waiting until the final, er, stretch is often worth it. Read on to learn the downsides of rushing things.

It's Risky for Babies

More than 25 percent of infants born electively between 37 and 39 weeks required admission to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for an average of 4.5 days, compared with fewer than 5 percent of infants who were delivered at 39 weeks or later, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Size Matters

Early babies may end up in the NICU for a host of reasons, most of them relating to immaturity. "They may have a tough time maintaining a normal body temperature because they don?t handle cold or stress well," says Alan R. Fleischman, M.D., medical director of the March of Dimes Foundation. For others, low blood sugar is often a problem until they get the hang of feeding -- and feeding can prove tricky because early-term babies tend to be smaller and weaker, causing struggles at the breast. Doctors typically let babies go home when these issues resolve within a few days, but many newborns end up back in the hospital with jaundice or lingering feeding problems, which can result in dehydration. If nursing continues to be difficult, your baby could miss out on the benefits of breastfeeding, such as increased immunity to common illnesses.

Brain Issues

Here's another thing to think about: At 35 weeks of gestation, the brain weighs only about two thirds of what it will at 40 weeks. "Preliminary data show that full-term babies do better in school than those born early," says Bryan T. Oshiro, M.D., associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Medicine, in California. That makes sense, especially in light of the mounting evidence that the earlier a baby comes, the greater the risks for having learning and behavioral problems. Babies born between 34 and 36 weeks are more than three times as likely as those born at term to be diagnosed with cerebral palsy, a recent study finds. The number of babies affected is still reassuringly small, but after 37 weeks, the risks do drop significantly.

Breathing Blues

You might not know it from the earsplitting wails of a newborn, but a healthy set of lungs is one of the last organs to mature. That's why respiratory problems are especially common in babies who arrive too early. In fact, newborns delivered at 37 weeks are three times as likely to experience respiratory distress syndrome (a severe newborn lung disease), transient tachypnea (rapid breathing), pneumonia, a need for a ventilator, and respiratory failure as babies born between 39 and 40 weeks, according to recent research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

It's a Bummer for Moms

Labor inductions can set in motion a chain of events that ultimately make a C-section more likely. First-time mothers who have had their labor induced double their risk of requiring an emergency C-section, which typically results in a longer recovery period for mom, according to a recent study in Obstetrics & Gynecology. After all, even though the procedure has become as common as sneezing these days, it's still major surgery.

A More Laborious Labor

To simulate natural labor, induction usually involves medications such as prostaglandin (taken orally or inserted vaginally) to soften the cervix, or an IV with a synthetic form of the hormone oxytocin (Pitocin or Syntocinon) to get contractions going. Your care provider might also consider breaking your water (also called an artificial rupture of membranes). Many experts note that induced contractions tend to be stronger than those experienced during spontaneous labor, and a recent study reported that synthetic oxytocin (Pitocin) is the medicine most commonly associated with preventable complications during childbirth -- with cesarean sections heading up that list.

In fact, the March of Dimes notes that elective inductions are a major contributing factor to skyrocketing C-section rates, giving credence to the idea that the body doesn't always perform optimally on command. Indeed, among women who had elective inductions, 37 percent had to have an emergency C-section because their cervix simply wasn't ready for labor, according to a report in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Cutting Complications

The C-section rate in the U.S. has surged over the past four decades, from 5 percent in 1970 to above 31 percent today. Sure, the tabloids may trumpet that "too posh to push" celebrities are opting for an easier childbirth, but any woman who has actually spent time recovering from a C-section will probably tell you there's nothing posh or painless about it. It is surgery and thus still carries with it increased risks for complications, infections, and a considerable recovery period (typically two to four days in the hospital, plus another four to six weeks of healing time at home).

Having one cesarean also ups the odds of an encore with your next baby, which can be more dangerous than many women realize. Repeat C-sections carry increased risks for hemorrhage, infection, hysterectomy, bowel and bladder injury, and abnormal placenta conditions. And although ACOG recently revised its guidelines to state that 60 to 80 percent of women are candidates for vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC), lots of clinicians and hospitals are still wary of allowing them. In fact, many ob-gyns are offering fewer opportunities for VBACs these days, according to ACOG.

Delayed Bonding

When you're recovering from surgery or your baby is in the NICU, you may not be able to cuddle him right away. We know that early skin-to-skin contact can have positive effects on breastfeeding duration, bonding between mother and child, infant crying, and the baby's cardio-respiratory stability. Complications during pregnancy and birth (including emergency C-sections, suspicion of fetal distress, and hospital admission of the baby) were also associated with postpartum depression, which hampers bonding. Of course, there's only so much you can control. What matters most is a healthy baby and mom; talk with your doctor so you can try to stick it out as long as you can.

Special Delivery

Of course, there are plenty of valid reasons to be induced early or schedule a C-section:

-- Bleeding during pregnancy

-- Fetal-development issues

-- High blood pressure or preeclampsia

-- Gestational or preexisting diabetes

-- Infection

-- Problems with the placenta Ruptured membranes prior to labor

Talk to your doctor about your condition and make sure he thinks it's essential to go early, Dr. Fleischman advises. "If there's a true medical indication, definitely move forward."

Originally published in the April 2011 issue of American Baby magazine.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Real World Test

So far so good!

UPS brought my stroller 2 days later than Kmart said they would (thanks a lot Kmart!). It arrived in a humungous box, which we dragged into the living room to start assembly. My 2 yr old proceeded to try to climb into the stroller and ask for a ride the whole time I was trying to put it together, and when he wasn't doing that, he was “helping” by handing me wheels and parts (so cute!). He was even more excited about the new stroller than I was.

It took about 30, maybe 40 minutes for me to put together by myself. The most difficult part was screwing the screws into the handle with a screwdriver. Instructions were fine, but wish they'd put the Spanish in a separate section for legibility (that's the graphic designer in me coming out).

Once assembled, I realized the “iPod” dock is a little plastic case with a speaker attached to it that you plug your iPod into and slip the whole thing into the pouch on one of the canopies. That means, you can't mess with the tunes without stopping and taking it out of the pouch. This doesn't bother me, since I don't even own an iPod, but something to consider if you thought the iPod dock was a selling point.

The first thing you notice is that, yes, it is definitely long and heavy. Longer and heavier than a single stroller without a doubt (no surprise there). It really is two strollers in one. My husband likened it to pushing a boat, but just like the huge cars from the 70s, the ride is very nice. I pushed it over the grass, bumps and funky-shaped curbs--no problem. Even manages a wheelie to go up a step. The back of the owner's manual recommends a little lubrication on the wheels from time to time to maintain the smooth ride (well, duh). I feel like I am pushing around some fancy piece of equipment rather than a high chair with casters.

The canopies are height adjustable by way of just sort of sliding them up and down. I'm glad I paid extra for the Tandem II model for this feature. In spite of his height, my 2 yr old wanted to have it lowered; I suppose he felt like he was in a tent. He is not too tall for the back rest either (woohoo!). If he scooches his bottom down on the seat a bit, he could nap if he wanted. Reclining the seat requires just one hand (I changed my son's pull-up with him reclined in the seat). The foot rests have several positions you can angle them at; you will need two hands for this.

The basket is pretty long: you could stash quite a bit in there—more if you have the seats reclined. You might need to access the basket from both ends to get everything in and out. Unfortunately I don't see a way to completely remove the basket. It is pinned onto the front axle. They parent tray is easily removable for washing (top rack safe). Cup holders and parent tray are about twice as deep as the ones on my old Graco stroller. The child cup holders do sort of get in the way if you have to stash these seats in a tight spot, but they snap off, if needed.

I put this stroller in the back of my Honda Fit (a subcompact hatchback) by removing both seats, standing the seats on either side of the trunk, and putting the base between them. The handle did extend a bit over the back seat of my Honda Fit. This would be a problem if you have someone sitting in the center (which I assume you won't if you bought this stroller, since you'd have two little kids in car seats!) I stashed my groceries in and around the stroller pieces, and that worked okay. The other configuration I've used is to remove the belly bars, and put the base in the trunk with the rear seat still attached to the stroller. Then I stand the second seat on top of the whole mess. This allows for more space in my trunk, but poorer driver visibility.

The fabric is decidedly gray, even on the picture on the box. It is unclear to me why the online photos and even the model name are “tan”. The fabric is not super-soft, so if that is something you're looking for, you might want to reconsider or look for a seat liner. You might find a seat liner on Etsy! Look →


or http://www.etsy.com/shop/littlewrappers?ref=seller_info

In summary this will be a great double stroller for walks in the park, trips to the mall, fair etc. It is not the greatest for doing a lot of quick errands due to the weight and extra time it takes to load in/out of the car. It would not be ideal if you have to store it inside a second-story apartment. Compared to other double strollers, this stroller fits through doorways, works well across multiple terrains and is good for either twins or children of different ages. Attractive, versatile, and easy to use (with some practice). A great value compared to similar strollers on the market.

As a side note, I did discover another stroller that allows for the same seating options as the Contours Options. Its called the “Duette” made by Peg Perego. There are several problems with this stroller. While it is more cushion-y, it is just as heavy and bulky as the Contours Options. It only accepts Peg Perego brand car seats. The basket is almost impossible to access. It has a steering wheel which allows for awesome maneuverability, unless it breaks (which happened to 2 of the 4 people who reviewed this stroller in “moka” on Amazoncom) making the stroller inoperable. Price Tag: around $700!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why I am purchasing the Contours Options Tandem II stroller (and summary of online parent reviews)

The Research Process

When I found out we were pregnant with our second child, I had it in my head that I wanted to find a side-by-side jogging stroller that I could have my kids facing me or facing outward. I wanted a jogger, because the larger wheels would be easier to push through the snow in the parking lots (we get snow five months out of the year where we're living now). After looking around on the internet, I was not seeing any jogging stroller that had this capability (not anything close to my price range) and many parents mentioned in their jogging stroller reviews how tough it is to push any side-by-side through a standard doorway. That's fine if you're just outside, but we use strollers indoors a lot. Even if you're just using it outside, a lot of sidewalks aren't that wide, and what if another pedestrian or cyclist needs to pass you? Side-by-sides can also veer to one side if you are pushing two children of different weights.

So I realized I would need to reconsider what I was looking for. I started looking for a tandem stroller with larger wheels that would push smoothly that I could have my children face me or face outward. There are few strollers out there that fit this description, and in most cases only one child can face and you have to use an infant car seat in order for the child to face you.

I discovered two strollers with large-ish wheels that allow for multiple configurations without the use of the infant car seats: the Baby Jogger City Select and Kolcraft Contours Options Tandem.

Here's the breakdown on the difference

The Contours stroller comes in three models:

Contours Options Tandem: first model they came out with, red in color, retails for around $200

Contours Options Tandem II: second model, gray with orange, canopies are adjustable in height, deeper seats, child cup holders, iPod dock and speaker, retails for around $240

and Contours Optima (yeah, Optima like the Kia Sedan?): improved frame weight with use of aluminum, comes in black/red combo or brown/green combo, no toddler handles, no toddler instep, no iPod dock and speaker, retails for around $290

Baby Jogger City Select: lighter weight frame, comes in red, black, white or purple, larger wheels, retails for about $400-$600. Second seat sold separately for around $140. Belly bar sold separately for $25 each/$50 for two. Child cup holder sold separately for $20 each/$40 for two. Parent console with cup holder and mp3 dock & speaker sold separately for around $50. While its possible that Baby Jogger makes a high quality stroller, totaling a minimum of ~$680 to match Contours Options II isn't something most parents can swing.

*Prices do not include tax or shipping

Making the Choice

For some it seems like a no-brainer at this point.

While $240 + tax + shipping is a LOT of money for the Hyde family to spend on a stroller, I managed to get a Contours Options II cheaper than Amazoncom on sale at Kmart.com plus used a coupon to save almost $60 (off the total...bringing the total to $248 [Allstate Motor Club members find a coupon online to get Kmart discount. Occasionally you can find these strollers on eBay as well]). We usually try to find pricier items like furniture etc. at second-hand stores and yard sales for a fraction of the price, but once in a while I decide I would like to have something brand new that I picked out to suit my own taste and will be durable. Besides, I did find fully 100—yes one hundred—single strollers on BabiesRus.com that cost more than this one. That's not even counting the double strollers that are even more costly.

Our current stroller is so old I haven't even been able to find any information about it on the internet (such as recall info or used one on eBay). It always veers to the right. It is completely blue (from the parent tray to the wheels), which is one of my husband's favorite colors and just fine for most people with little boys, but its actually my least favorite color! The canopy is missing the center piece, so it sags in the center and sometimes the screws that hold the canopy on come out. Only the left brake works; the right brake is broken off. Sometimes when we are collapsing/opening the stroller the fabric gets caught in the hinges making the whole thing inoperable. It only reclines to a completely flat position and the harness only goes around the baby's waist, so while I was waiting on my little guy to gain ability to sit up, there was always a chance we'd go up a curb & he could fall out the back head first! (And I won't talk about the times he fell forward) The belt is so difficult to adjust, we've only done it twice—and he's 2 years old! The seat dos not “cradle” the baby at all, so with my little guy having very low muscle tone, he was 9 months or so before the seat seemed really appropriate for him. As a young baby, he couldn't turn his head to see me either, which always left him thinking Mommy was gone. He would cry every time I put him in there, because he thought I left him. I think the stroller originally came with a tray for the baby's snacks/toys, but it was gone by the time the stroller came to me.

...But I remind myself they don't have strollers in third world countries...they just strap the baby on their back (I strapped the little guy on my chest on a regular basis when he was a little smaller, and it was a lifesaver). I am thankful that I have a stroller at all. The bright side of all of this is having used this stroller for two years has set my expectations so low that anything with a fully-functional canopy would be an improvement.

Details about Contours Options Tandem II

The coolest thing about this stroller is in the name: options. There are 7 seating options with this stroller. Your kids can #1 both face you, #2 both face forward, #3 face each other, or #4 face away from each other. #5 With the car seat adapter, you can put most models of infant seats on the stroller in place of one of the seats. #6 The car seat can go in either spot (but its easier to push with the heaviest child in rear). #7 A second car seat adapter is sold separately if you have twins (but I think only a couple models of infant seat work with this configuration). You can only face the infant seat toward the parent.

The biggest drawback to this stroller is that you must remove one or both seats each time you fold it down, in order to get the most compact fold. While most parents reported that the seats easily click on and off, for some it was a deal-breaker.

The stroller weighs quite a bit at 44.4 lb according to the manufacturer, but its worth keeping in mind that when you set it up, you are lifting at least one piece of it separately; its not quite that much. Many parents reported it wasn't really a problem to them, since most double strollers weigh A LOT. If that is the only deal-breaker for you, you could go for the Optima model, which weighs almost 8 lb less. (Hey, I need to do some strength-training anyway to prepare for breastfeeding and soothing a new baby!)

It is freestanding in the folded position, so it will not flop onto the dirty parking lot as soon as you let go. This could really come in handy when we find ourselves in a restaurant, which is unavoidable anywhere that we walk from our car to the restaurant (places like big cities, the mall, or an amusement park). Parking our stroller in a cramped restaurant is annoying to everyone. Our current model won't fold down without flopping to the ground, thus becoming even more of a tripping hazard.

The belly bars are kind of an added safety feature, as well as a place to hang toys, pouches of stuff, and a spot to hang onto for your toddler. They have a double-action hinge that swivels both out and down. I guess if they really bug you, you don't have to put them on. If you're using a blanket to keep the sun/rain/wind off, the belly bar will help keep the blanket out of baby's face. The extra big canopies help with this, too.

Yes, this is a tandem stroller, and yes, it is looong. But most parents reported it is easy to maneuver compared to other tandem strollers. You can push it with one finger. Turning works just fine as long as you're not in the clothing racks at WalMart. Its shorter than some other tandem strollers on the market.

The canopies are adjustable in height, so you can lower them to keep sun out of a younger baby's eyes, or raise them for your taller toddler. They're pretty big compared to many strollers. They have peek-a-boo screens that roll back or Velcro down for protection from the sun. The canopies have pouches for the iPod speakers, but parents reported this only works for one canopy at a time, which seems a little unfair. One random thing that is neat (but that I probably won't use) is the iPod dock and speakers. There is a dock that you can attach—and remove—from the parent tray that apparently feeds music to somewhere in the stroller. Take the dock off and use the little stand to stand your iPod on a table. It also has an adapter insert for iPod mini.

The foot rests are reportedly adjustable, but I don't have the stroller yet to check how this works.

The basket on this thing is huge. The long frame accommodates a large, easily-accessible basket, which is especially easy to access if you're using the car seat adapter or your children are facing each other. If you remove one seat to use this as a single stroller, you can use the extra space to stash groceries, purchases at the mall, or winter coats etc.

There are two deep cup holders for the parent, and a deep, rotating cup holder on each baby's seat. They have slits in them so gunk and liquid won't collect in there. There is no snack tray, so thumbs down on that. I'm hoping to get the Star Kids Snack and Play Travel Tray , so I can serve the kids meals in the stroller if needed & they can play with toys on it without them constantly falling to floor. Parents reported that the parent tray on the handle bar was very spacious. It can be removed and is top rack dishwasher safe!

The handle does not adjust in height, but most parents reported it was still comfortable for taller parents.

A lot of strollers have 6” or 4” wheels. This one has 8” wheels for easier pushing. The brakes are two individual locking foot brakes. Some strollers come with one bar across the bottom, which would have been nice here, but I think having the individual brakes accommodates parents with longer strides. I would have liked hand brakes, but haven't seen any strollers other than joggers that come with hand brakes.

Durable: nearly all parents reported this stroller being sturdy and durable. Comes with a one-year warranty. In a couple reviews I found, the wheels fell off and the company replaced the stroller, no problem. One person complained that she thought the tires were cheapo, but I would argue that this is the same sort of material nearly all standard stroller tires are made of.

Seats can either sit upright, partly reclined, or reclined to nearly flat. They adjust with the motion of one hand. A few parents complained that their 2 year old could not lay down to sleep in this stroller as the seat back is not high enough. Other parents who said they have a tall 2 year old said this wasn't a problem. I guess this part depends on your individual child and whether they'll be sleeping in it!

There are a few nice little extras on the Options II, that for some reason Kolcraft did away with when they came out with the Optima model. There are little handles for a toddler to hold onto if he is walking beside you in a crowded place. There are little “steps” on the sides for a toddler to climb into the stroller. (Kolcraft also did away with the iPod dock on the Optima model. I think they were trying to make the weight of the stroller look better on paper.)

Assembly: I didn't really find any complaints related to assembly, other than a parent who reported you must remove some pins that are meant to be place-holders only. You replace them with screws that are included in the box, but I guess some people didn't get the memo and it fell apart.

As for the styling on here, this is the most stylish, modern-looking double stroller in its price range. Looks similar to the pricier Baby Jogger. The gray/orange combo is not quite as appealing to me as the color combos on the other models of this stroller, but I like it and will probably do a little crafty embellishing of my own to “up” the cool factor. I looked at a lot of photos that showed the fabric being deceptively “tan”. Parents said that it is decidedly gray.

Babble editors chose not to include this stroller on their list of Top Double Strollers. I think it must be due the weight and the complication of removing a seat to fold the stroller compactly.

You can only purchase the additional car seat adapter with red accent to match the first model. Thumbs down there.

Check Back Later for the Real World Test

Is this stroller going to completely spoil me so I can never go back to using a regular Graco single stroller? Or will I be sorry I spent so much?

Marcia's Get Read for Baby List

Registry Suggestions...just my opinion

Moby Wrap or other baby carrier

(The single-shoulder type of carrier [such as a ringsling or hotsling] is easier to put on and take off, but I found it hurt my back to bear all the weight on one shoulder for a long time. You may want to switch shoulders periodically if you use this type. The Moby does the best job of distributing the baby's weight, but you'll need to practice tying it on a bit with a teddy bear or bag of sugar. You can buy items like these on Etsy.com and there are instuctional videos on youtube. If you are confident about tying it on, get a lightweight woven one for hot summer months. Clip-on ones such as the Snugli or Bjorn are fine, just not as comfortable.)


(I haven't tried many strollers, but my favorite feature of my stroller is that the seat reclines flat, so I can change Samson's diaper in the stroller instead of those dirty public restrooms. We got it used, so the food/cupholder tray for the baby is now missing, and I REALLY wish it was still there! It does have a cupholder for Mommy, which I LOVE! [but I will warn you NOT to put any beverage without a tight screw-on lid in there—especially hot coffee.] One of the biggest issues with strollers is that when the baby is reclined, you can't access the basket with your diaper bag without disturbing the baby. If you are on-the-go a lot, read parent reviews before you buy your stroller. You'll want one of those $10 lightweight strollers as well, but that can wait until the baby is older.)

Swing or Vibrating bouncy seat or both

(Some babies are picky—Samson preferred the vibrating bouncer as a newborn)

Double-electric breast pump, Bottle cleaning brush, and a Bottle warmer

(I would really advise against a hand pump or single pump if you plan on returning to work. You're not allowed to microwave breast milk, and running it under warm water is such a chore—takes forever, so I really wish I had had a bottle warmer. You could also give it to them cold—it won't hurt them. You don't have to buy either item until a few weeks before returning to work, at which point you should introduce the bottle. Mine came with ice packs and insulated bag, which was nice.)

Cotton balls or cotton rounds

(We used these and some water for the first couple of weeks instead of wipes, because of newborns' delicate skin. Also use cotton swab and water to clean the cord stump.)

Infant Grooming/First Aid Kit

Many of the kits you buy include the following, but you can also purchase the items separately.

Thermometer—rectal temp is most accurate, so you also need petroleum jelly, or you can get an ear thermometer or 'temple touch'

Baby Nail clippers, nail scissors and file (you will want to file baby's nails immediately)

Nasal bulb (they gave me one at the hospital and it worked better than the store-bought one)

Gum massager/toothbrush


Medicine dropper/medicine spoon (I never used these, because they gave them to me at the pharmacy. I think I used the dropper for saline solution when he had a stuffy nose.)

Band-aids (though, I'm sure you already have these?)

Baby Monitor

(nice to have, not a necessity)

Newborn outfits with attached mittens

(They're called "mitten cuffs." Samson cut me up really bad while nursing with those newborn fingernails. People will probably give you some as gifts anyway)

Nursing Pillow (such as Boppy)



(running a fan in the room while the baby's sleeping helps reduce the risk of SIDS)


(I used Lansinoh brand – available in the infant feeding aisle with the breast pumps and pads. Put it on every time after you nurse.)

Nursing Pads

(I liked Avent or Johnson's with the breathable outer layer. I tried the reusable, but they did not hold enough liquid for someone like me with over-production problems)

LOTS of Burp cloths

Nursing bras/nursing tanks

(Don't want anything with an under-wire as this can cause plugged ducts in your breasts. I made the mistake of buying some medium size nursing tanks and later wished I had bought small for better support. They can run bigger than you think. Your size will change: buy these AFTER the baby is born if you can wait.)

Nursing Cover

(A blanket works, too, but I liked the security of the strap, and the cover was more breathable than a blanket. You can also use it to drape over the baby carrier or stroller to keep sun out of baby's eyes. My favorite was “The First Years” brand one, but lots of cool designs are available on Etsy.com).

Play mat with play gym

Changing mat

(One for at home and one for the diaper bag. If you have the money and the space, having a changing table is ideal. Our play yard came with an attached changing table, but only holds baby up to a certain weight, so he outgrew that quickly.)

Diaper Pail

Laundry bag/basket

(You'll need something small you can keep handy next to the changing area to toss dirty clothes in when baby has a diaper blowout.)

Wet bags

(I bought a couple of leak-proof “Wet Happened” brand bags, which can also be used for wet bathing suits. I keep them in the diaper bag for dirty diapers or when Samson spills all over his outfit etc. and reuse them a zillion times. You can just as easily stash some grocery bags in the diaper bag for such situations.)

Fitted crib sheets

(need several changes because poopies explode sometimes!)

BPA-free bottles and silicone nipples

(Nipples will need to be replaced periodically as they wear out. I used the “Nuk” bottles.)

Baby bath tub

(I wish I had one that fit in the sink. Recently, in anticipation of whenever another baby comes along, I purchased a bath cradle at Wal-Mart: fabric on a wire frame to hold the baby. You can use it in the sink OR big people tub and don't even have to buy a baby tub.)

Baby wash cloths

(or lots of soft adult-size wash cloths)

Car seat

(This is one you will definitely want to research if you haven't already purchased it. You must CAREFULLY install it properly—most parents think they did it correctly, but they did it wrong. This will save your baby's life in an accident. You can either get a convertible one that holds them from newborn up to 40 lb. or so, or you can get one for a little baby [which the hospital will probably give you] and a toddler one when he outgrows it. I have a few. The one I am using holds them from newborn up to like 60 lb., but you cannot remove it from the car and carry them around in it. Check NHTSA website for ease-of-use ratings and installation help.)

Play yard

(Nice to have, but not a necessity. Many come with changing hammock, which is also helpful.)

Shopping cart/high chair cover

(Not a necessity, you can also use a baby wipe to wipe the shopping cart down, or keep wiping baby's hands. I keep forgetting I have mine in the car, but it is nice to have.)

Some place to store all this stuff

(A dresser, a few plastic bins/drawers, and something to tote your diapering/nursing essentials around the house)

Savings account in your child's name

(People will give you money for the baby's “college” or whatever:)

Ivan's Additional Recommended Items:

[Thank you to my husband for these "inspired" baby registry suggestions :) ]


Turducken (eat a whole one twice a month)

6 Copies of Die Hard II

Toyota Corolla

Gun (revolver-type)

Parachute Pants (the sparklier the better)

For an older baby

Things you can definitely wait to buy

Feeding supplies

(Baby spoons, forks, bowls, tupperwares, sippy cups, snack cups)


(No one bought us many toys. I guess no one loves us. Whattoexpect.com or the baby books will tell you what toys to buy at what age.)

Toddler clothes:18 months, 24 months etc.

(Everyone will buy you the teeny tiny clothes that the baby will wear for one month and when they turn 1 year, suddenly they've outgrown everything you got at the baby shower!)

Booster chair or High chair

(You won't need one until the baby is 6 months. If you have a chair at your kitchen table you can spare, I think its much better to put a booster in it—way cheaper and way easier to put in storage. Plus you can bring the booster along if you're having dinner at a friend's house.)

Feeding Bibs

(I like the wipe-able ones that are like $5 at Wal-Mart)

You DON'T need to buy...

Dreft or other special laundry detergent

(Just stick to the laundry detergent you have. I thought for a bit that ours was giving Sammy a rash, but it turned out to be a sweat rash 'cus it was so dang warm).


(You'll probably get them as gifts, and you can decide if you/your baby prefers them. My parenting style was to figure out if there was another reason the baby might be crying. Samson didn't take the pacifiers anyway—I washed my hands and let him suck on my pinky. I toted them around though, and I liked having a pacifier caddy that attached to the diaper bag.)

Lots of clothes, bibs

(People will give you lots of clothes as gifts.)


(Too dangerous. Get an exersaucer, jumper or other stationary activity center. If you want to help your baby walk, get a push toy or ride-on toy. Too many kids fall in walkers even when the parent is right there.)


(Nice to have, because baby feels more secure as a newborn, but not necessary)

Baby wash, lotion and shampoo

(People will give you these as gifts anyway. By the way, you can interchange them. You can use the baby wash as shampoo and vice versa. No special lotion required, any gentle moisturizer such as Cetaphil will do.)

Baby food maker

(Nice to have, but you can do the same thing with your food processor, mixer or blender)

Diaper rash ointment

(People will give you this as a gift anyway.)

Sleep positioner

(Safety experts really advise against this.)

Drool bibs

(You might want them, but no need to buy them. People will buy these for you, whether you want them or not. For the longest time I did not know they were for collecting drool – I thought they were for feeding, and goodness they weren't big enough for feeding! We got by without it, 'cus Samson wasn't a huge drooler for long.)

There are also a lot of great lists out there to tell you what to bring to the hospital, but a lot of that is personal preference stuff, which you will figure out in birthing class. The hospital will provide pretty much everything you need. And if you forget something, you can send hubby or a friend to your house to get it. I liked it that my hospital sent me home with witch hazel pads and perinatal ice packs ('cus things were pretty swollen and sore down there.) The most important thing to have at the hospital for me, was my doula and my husband.