Sunday, April 20, 2014

Three Important Questions for Your OBGYN

by Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff, MommyGreenest.com

If you’re pregnant—or thinking about it—make sure your doctor knows the answers to three important questions that can protect your children’s health.

In 2013, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Society for Reproductive Medicine released a joint statement that said: “toxic chemicals in our environment harm our ability to reproduce, negatively affect pregnancies and are associated with numerous long-term health problems.”

In 2011, the American Academy of Pediatrics recognized that pesticides are associated with pediatric cancers, decreased cognitive function and behavioral problems, and recommended that pediatricians work with parents to help reduce the use of pesticides in homes and yards.

Yet not all doctors share information to help patients reduce toxic chemicals during pregnancy, a time when even low levels have been linked to disruption of fetal brain and reproductive system development, as well as increased risks of birth defects, cancer, immune problems, asthma and other problems later in life.

In 2012, a University of San Francisco study of more than 2,000 obstetricians and gynecologists nationwide found that although they routinely discuss smoking, alcohol, diet and weight gain, most doctors do not warn their patients about environmental hazards as related to pregnancy.

With this in mind, here are a few questions to ask your ObGyn:

1. Should I be concerned about mercury in fish?
2. Is organic food important during pregnancy?
3. How can I reduce the amount of VOCs (volatile organic compounds) in my environment?

If I were pregnant (again) here are the answers I’d want to hear:

1. Yes, avoid fish during pregnancy and supplement with omega-3 oils.
2. Since studies have shown links between pesticides in pregnancy and lower birth weight babies with shorter term pregnancies; you should eat organic as much as you can.
3. Use no VOC paints and avoid new synthetic carpets and furniture, especially those which are made with formaldehyde.

If your doctor doesn’t have answers—or resists talking about these issues—consider whether or not he or she is the right doctor for you!

Better known as “Mommy Greenest,” Rachel Lincoln Sarnoff is a journalist, consultant, sustainability advocate and former CEO of Healthy Child Healthy World who was editor of Children magazine—before she had three of her own. Rachel was featured in Los Angeles and Lucky magazines and appeared on “The Today Show” and “CNN Headline News,” among others. Rachel publishes MommyGreenest.com, [PLEASE LINK TO SITE] sharing advice about healthier living with less judgment, because you shouldn't have to be a scientist to raise healthy kids. Follow her @RachelLSarnoff and at YouTube.com/RachelSarnoff.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Finding Support as New Gay Dads

By Paul

Almost eight years ago, my office phone rang and after he asked me if I was sitting down, my partner said through a rush of tears “we are getting a baby.” I’ll call anyone a liar who says that hearing those words for the first time isn’t the most mind-bending, fear-inducing, stomach-falls-to-floor-then-heart-bursts-out-of-your-chest moment of sheer panic coupled with pure joy they’ve ever experienced. Your life, at that moment, changes forever. Seriously. YOU WILL NEVER BE THE SAME, and best of all (not really), you don’t have any concept of exactly what lies ahead.  You might think you do, but you don’t. 

Cheryl (CEO of The Pump Station & Nurtury™) has asked me to write about the experience we had all those years ago, and how being a part of a group of guys who were also going through the same experience might have helped us. There certainly wasn’t any such group, and while we were far from being “trailblazers” as gay dads, we didn’t know anyone else who had done this. We were living in Phoenix at the time. No need to say much more, right? So, in spite of the fact that we were both pretty spoiled and self-centered, we somehow managed to survive those first months, and today we have a happy, healthy, thriving almost-8 year old second-grader, who doesn’t flinch or bat an eye about the fact that his family looks different from the families of some of his friends. I think we’ve done ok so far. 

We survived those early days because, well, we had no other choice.  We signed up to be parents. There’s no “opt out” button on this process. You’re in. All in.  Forever. So, because we are both reasonably intelligent, we both have a fair amount of patience, we’re supportive of each other, and we had lightning-fast google capabilities, we managed to get through infanthood without any huge crises.  We did quickly come to realize how much our families meant to us, even if they weren’t able to be of much practical use due to distance, age, “no parenting experience”, etc.  And, we found a few friends who just seemed to “get it,” and were supportive in any way they could be. 

Would an organized group have helped us?  Oh, yes – without a doubt. As I think about how we struggled, and the seemingly monumental issues that we faced at the beginning, I think such a group would have helped us in two ways: First, there’s the list of practical decisions that have to be made at the time, which sometimes felt absolutely overwhelming. Things like “is swaddling really ok, or is it a form of torture?” “Are we going to regret giving him a pacifier?” “One of the dogs just licked his nose, and God knows where that mouth was just before – do we need to go to the doctor?” It would have been great to have had someone to talk to, who had already gone through it, or was experiencing it at the same time.  Someone who could say “Don’t worry about the fact that you put that pacifier in his mouth after picking it up off the kitchen floor without rinsing it off. He isn’t going to die.” A million and one practical considerations face new parents every day, and having someone to call, someone to ask, someone to reassure you would have been a great help to us. 

Then, there are the less practical, more emotional ways in which such a group could have helped us. I remember being deep into those first few months, and thinking that our world had started to shrink – it was all about him, and taking care of his needs, and making sure he was safe and healthy. While we tried to keep our lives “normal” (whatever that means), I think we got a bit lost in all of the responsibility of parenting. Would it have been helpful to go meet once a week or so with others who were dealing with the same challenges we were at the time? Absolutely. We were very fortunate that we didn’t experience much outward hostility about being two guys with a baby that clearly “belonged” to both of us.  But, it would have been nice to talk about how to deal with the occasional “cute baby, but where’s the mom?” comments from total strangers. 


We managed through those times, but in hindsight, it would have been so nice to have had a community of other dads to rely on, to laugh with, to support and be supported by. I strongly encourage anyone who is beginning the parenthood odyssey to seek out such a group and take advantage of the power of shared experience. You’ll survive this crazy ride no matter what, but sharing the journey will only expand the joy. 
____________________________________________________

Please join us at The Pump Station and Nurtury™ in Hollywood for our very first session of “My Daddies and Me”!  The class will meet on Mondays from 5:00-6:30 p.m. for an eight week session starting on Monday, April 28thFirst session is for babies born between October, 2013-February, 2014

Please email Norma@pumpstation.com with your child’s namebirth dateand your phone number. Feel free to contact her if you have any questions. If your little one doesn’t fit but you’re interested in a class, please let us know.

My Daddies and Me classes include but are not limited to:
  • guidance for sleeping and eating
  • developmental play
  • attachment and separation
  • optimizing your baby’s capacities through your relationship
  • mindful parenting in challenging moments
  • the science of praise
  • supportive friendships with other dads
  • songs, movement, fun!
  • adjustment to parenthood
  • back to work/finding balance
  • partner issues/reconnecting after baby
  • preschool tips 
Beth Weisman, M.A., who has more than a decade of experience as an early childhood educator, and nursery school and Parent & Me director, is very excited to be leading this class.

And as an added bonus, when you sign up for the class you will also get to enjoy the following benefits:
  • 10% off all merchandise purchases*
  • Guidance and support from clinical therapists or health professionals with extensive background in early childhood development and parenting.
  • The support and friendship of other dads who will be part of your world for years to come! You can't put a price on that!

*Offer valid from registration through last day of session. Proof of I.D. will be required. Not valid to towards consults, classes, sale merchandise or online orders.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

POP into language!

by Nahal A. Papehn MS, CCC-SLP, Founder of Coos, Babble, & Talk

Sitting there on the red monkey blanket that my son loves, I felt like a kid all over again. I dipped the florescent green wand into the soapy liquid and pulled it out too fast; the water splashed me in the face and I shouted YIKES! In that moment my son laughed hysterically and I hadn’t even blown the bubble yet! He was having a blast just watching me get ready…. I counted “One, two, three” and blew THE biggest bubble I could. He observed in fascination as this bubble floated in mid air, gently falling down on his knee and…… POP!

In all the time I have been working with babies and toddlers, a bottle of bubbles has never failed to get a coo, a babble, or loads of talking out of a little one. Children need to be motivated to speak, engage, and communicate with their caregivers. Bubbles can just be that motivation your little one needs. But it’s more than that. 

Often times I have a worried parent asking me “Why isn’t my toddler using words yet?” and before I ask the list of questions that might indicate an actual speech and/or language delay, I always want to know how motivated is this child to WANT to talk. Are mom and dad over anticipating their needs too often, preventing the child from making a decision for themselves or formulating a thought, opinion, or question?

It’s easy to over anticipate the needs of your child when you’re trying to teach them about the WORLD. So here are a few tips on how you can start guiding your little one to begin using language to communicate their wants, needs and observations at age level.

1. Model SLOW and SIMPLE language. 
Your 10 month old is processing information at a much slower rate than you are. Rather than speaking in 4-5 word sentences, keep it simple and use 1-2 words at a time to point out your thoughts and/or observations. Example: “Big bubble!” (instead of: “Look at the big bubble, it’s going to pop on your face!”)  I also like to over exaggerate the word BIG and this naturally SLOWS down the word and teaches intonation at the same time…

2. Ask “More?”
Rather than anticipating that your child wants more banana and cutting them more and more pieces (leaving it on their tray), cut a couple slices, wait until they finish it, and then ask them if they want more. Teach them the word MORE and do this by pairing the word MORE with the basic sign that represents the word MORE (refer to American Sign Language) -- You are also now teaching your child to communicate their needs and desires. If you had initially anticipated your child wanting more, by cutting all the banana and leaving it on the tray for them to finish, you weren’t really giving your child the opportunity to ask you for anything. 

3. Be Consistent. 
Whether you’re speaking in one or two languages with your little one, make sure you’re being consistent. Model the names of familiar people and objects in the home, consistently and on a daily basis. Your child is “bombarded” with these titles and labels everyday, processing these words again and again, and hopefully imitating you within a few weeks. Being consistent with these titles and labels goes a long way. For example you may introduce Grandpa as “Papa” one day and then “Grampie” another day. By using two different names for Grandpa Joe, you may confuse your little one into thinking that Grandpa has two names OR they may just take longer to process the fact that Grandpa can be called by two different names and then take longer to say the name for Grandpa.  So stick with “Papa” or “Grampie” but don’t mix the two…

4. Listen and Wait.
Listening to your baby or toddler can be rewarding in so many ways. During play, I encourage parents to stop talking for a little while and to wait for their child to INITIATE talk. You will be surprised by what you may hear and often times this can turn into the best part of your play session. 

5. Make Meaningful Interactions.
During play, make as much eye contact with your child as you can. Important for social language and social development is the use of eye contact in communication. When talking and playing with your baby, whether it’s a verbal or nonverbal interaction, make eye contact, gestures, and exaggerated facial expressions to teach your baby about nonverbal communication cues. Don’t be afraid to get silly with this one! 

These are just a few general tips on how to guide your baby into the world of language. Follow the Coos, Babble, & Talk blog series (more to come!) for more informative topics on communication, speech, and language for your growing baby!

Just be mindful that when you’re teaching your child about the WORLD, you need to put yourself in their shoes for a moment. Are you having fun? Are you in the moment… listening and waiting? Are you motivated to learn or to know WHY something is the way it is? Be that child who is in awe of that floating bubble…Be in awe!
___________________________________________________________________

Want to learn more? Check out Nahal's "Sizzling" Hot Topic Lectures at The Pump Station & Nurtury!
Coos, Babble & Talk: Stimulate your Baby's Language Skills While Having Fun!
with Nahal A. Papehn, MA, SLP-CCC
Babies age: 6-15 months

  • Saturday, March 29th at 3pm at The Pump Station & Nurtury™ Hollywood - Call 323-469-5300 to register.
  • Friday, March 28th at 1pm at The Pump Station & Nurtury™ Westlake Village - Call 805-777-7179 to register.
  • Dates to be announced for The Pump Station & Nurtury™ Santa Monica.

"Coo's, Babble, and Talk" teaches parents how to communicate with their little ones by introducing language comprehension and expression through play, while also offering the opportunity for caregivers to ask questions and try hands-on techniques that will get their children 'talking.' As the child enters 3-6 months of age, language and communication skills taught through play are essential for their overall cognitive development and important to nurture daily through songs, toys, talking, and basic baby sign language. This in turn will help prevent speech and language delays by the time they enter preschool and elementary school. Practicing these simple techniques goes a long way in our little one's speech and language development!

Your baby discovers language through YOU – first through coo's, then babbling, and eventually (through play and lots of modeling) will begin to 'talk.' "Coos, Babble, and Talk" offers you everyday techniques on how to model age appropriate language, have fun with babbling, take turns 'talking,' and how to 'wait' for language. Through this class, parents will learn a variety of important ways to enhance speech and language development. We will be learning about how to introduce front, middle, and back sounds to our little ones, teach our little ones how to coordinate movement with their tongue, lips, and jaw, teach appropriate prosody in a "fun" way, and help increase our little one's vocabulary in order to become good verbal communicators in the future.

**Please bring your child's favorite toy(s), rattle(s), and/or a stuffed animal(s)
Click here for more info…

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Intimacy with your Partner after Baby? Why does it feel so different? So difficult?

Marital satisfaction, according to research from the Journal of Marriage and Family, takes quite a plunge after baby makes three. The physical and emotional challenges of being a new parent, coupled with the new responsibility of 24/7 care of your new baby often leaves your primary relationship with your spouse/partner sorely unattended to.

It’s a common myth that having a baby will bring a couple closer together. What can you do when you find this to be alarmingly not the case?

Well, we've turned to Julie Wright to help address this problem. Julie is an MFT, Psychotherapist and leader of The Wright Mommy & Me Groups here at The Pump Station & Nurtury™. As a guest blogger this week – Julie shares some highlights from her class:

BLOG:
by Julie Wright, MFT

In my Mommy & Me classes I explore with my moms – what we call the “Myths of Motherhood”. Inevitably, the topic veers to and settles on these moms' concerns regarding “connectedness” in their marriages. It shocks me to see how this is such a common issue among so many mothers. Here are some important things to be aware of as you find yourself to be one of these moms who is feeling such a strain on her relationship:
  1. You are not alone! Many couples have these same problems. Relationships are hard – communication is critical!
  2. You are tired, you are exhausted and you feel burnt out. Another “little person” is not a “little” workload – caring for a child is a tremendous drain on you, your spouse and your relationship. As exhausted as you both are – you must work that much harder.
  3. As new parents, the division of labor has become more noticeable – i.e. money maker vs. home maker. Time management issues become that much harder to handle. Often the mother struggles to release control of baby care and baby care styles differ. As parents you feel less confident in your ability to know what to do at any given moment.
  4. The baby arrives, your relationship has lost its “luster” – you sense a “state of emergency” This heightened state of discomfort gives you both the opportunity to finally do the work necessary to move toward the intimacy we all crave.
  5. Don’t panic! You have enough pressure in your life as it is.
  6. Being aware of these issues and being willing to talk openly about them is an enormous first step. Knowing you are not alone can open the door to choosing a new way of being with your spouse/partner.
  7. Talk to your spouse/partner! Communicate, talk, share, discuss, empathize, listen and learn more about each other's needs and desires.
  8. Make time for each other! You’re probably spending a great deal of time tracking when your baby eats, poops and sleeps – do your best to fit your partner/spouse into that schedule.
  9. Take out that iPhone and schedule Date Night's with your partner! Yes, you may feel guilty about taking time away from your baby – but you must realize: it is critical – you need to give your relationship every possible chance of survival – this is the most essential gift you can give to your child!
Hopefully, my suggestions will help to bring you and your spouse/partner closer together. I think it is important that I also note – sometimes there are issues you may have had as a couple before having a baby – these will not be solved by having a baby – but instead can be amplified and your levels of frustration in dealing with these issues will only increase. Raising a couple’s awareness of these issues opens the doors for the two people to actually talk about their problems. Sometimes these issues are best addressed in couple’s therapy. It is important that you and your spouse/partner are open to different options in order to insure the happiness of your new family.

Monday, March 3, 2014

My Daddies and Me

“Dear Pump Station,

I’m just a tiny baby, but I heard my two daddies talking to their mommy friend while they thought I was napping.  She was telling them all about the cool and helpful things she’s been learning in her mommy and me class.  I know they don’t want to be the only daddies in a mommy and me class, but – between you and me -- I really think they could use a few tips!  Let’s face it – they really love me, but they’re new to this daddy thing and it would be great for them to have a little help and support.  I think they would really like to have other daddies to hang out with and talk about all the changes and craziness I have apparently brought into their lives!” 


Hey, baby – good news for you and your daddies! The Wright Parent and Me groups at The Pump Station & Nurtury™ hears you and is offering a brand new class for your family. Our new My Daddies and Me Group is for families just like yours. Your daddies will get all the helpful, practical, mindful information The Wright Parent and Me Groups provide, plus your daddies will find the unique support and shared experiences of other two dad families.   We hope you’ll join us for this first-of-its kind parenting class designed especially for you!

Please join us at The Pump Station and Nurtury™ in Hollywood for our very first session of “My Daddies and Me”!  The class will meet on Mondays from 5:00-6:30 p.m. for an eight week session starting on Monday, April 28thFirst session is for babies born between October, 2013-February, 2014

Please email Norma@pumpstation.com with your child’s name, birth date, and your phone number. Feel free to contact her if you have any questions. If your little one doesn’t fit but you’re interested in a class, please let us know.

My Daddies and Me classes include but are not limited to:
  • guidance for sleeping and eating
  • developmental play
  • attachment and separation
  • optimizing your baby’s capacities through your relationship
  • mindful parenting in challenging moments
  • the science of praise
  • supportive friendships with other dads
  • songs, movement, fun!
  • adjustment to parenthood
  • back to work/finding balance
  • partner issues/reconnecting after baby
  • preschool tips 
Beth Weisman, M.A., who has more than a decade of experience as an early childhood educator, and nursery school and Parent & Me director, is very excited to be leading this class.

And as an added bonus, when you sign up for the class you will also get to enjoy the following benefits:
  • 10% off all merchandise purchases*
  • Guidance and support from clinical therapists or health professionals with extensive background in early childhood development and parenting.
  • The support and friendship of other dads who will be part of your world for years to come! You can't put a price on that!



*Offer valid from registration through last day of session. Proof of I.D. will be required. Not valid to towards consults, classes, sale merchandise or online orders.