Archive for October, 2009

Get The Shot

OK, you’ve heard all of the interviews and all of the speculation. The vaccine is too new. This is just your average flu. I’ve posted them here to help you make an informed decision about whether to get the H1N1 vaccine. I hope they helped.

Now I’m offering up my opinion, for what it’s worth. I am not a doctor, just someone who talks to them a lot.

If you’re pregnant, get the shot.

I’ll let Aubrey Opdyke tell you why. She does it far better than I ever could.

She shared her devastating story of struggle and loss with The New York Times here. No, she didn’t die, though she came close.

Her baby did.

Parker Christine Opdyke lived nearly 27 weeks inside her mother’s womb. She lived seven minutes outside of it. I can’t imagine anything more agonizing.

The H1N1 virus is serious business for pregnant women. It can be deadly, for both mom and baby.

I know many of you are having difficulty getting the vaccine because of short supply. Stay on your OB. Get it as soon as you can.

I’m not trying to frighten you, and this is only my opinion, but mommy…get the shot.

(Remember, you cannot use the FluMist vaccine while pregnant. You have to wait for the shot.)

H1N1 Update

Grrrrrrrrr…Ok, preggos, you know you’re not a candidate for the FluMist form of the vaccine, because it contains a live, attenuated virus. However, it appears the injectable form of the vaccine, the one that you can get, has been delayed. Again.

Here in Texas, the counties have been warned that they won’t see any H1N1 shots until November. It’s the same everywhere else.


You can look up when the vaccine will be arriving in your state here. I caution you, however, these may not be updated. The delivery dates for Texas have not been updated.

Also, it turns out the underlying condition present in a majority of the kids who end up in the hospital with swine flu is asthma. Kids with asthma also need the shot. The can’t have FluMist.

So, again, grrrrrr……

There finally is some suggestions about why H1N1 is so hard on pregnant women. This is from Anne Schuchat at the Centers for Disease Control.

First, pregnancy itself changes a woman’s immune system, keeping her body from having an immune reaction to the baby. Secondly, as the pregnancy progresses, the baby presses upwards on its mother¹s lungs, making it harder for her to breathe deeply. Pregnant women need to contact their health care provider if they are experiencing difficulty breathing and fever, Schuchat says.

The thing is, the same is true for the seasonal flu, so I’m not sure that we’ve gotten any real info here.

The alarming figure from this story has nothing to do with pregnant women or with kids who have asthma. It’s about everyone else. The CDC says 45% of those hospitalized with H1N1 have no underlying conditions.

I have a call in to an epidemiologist to find out if this is our of an overabundance of caution because of all the coverage swine flu is getting, or because this flu is tougher on healthy people than experts thought it would be. I’ll post it to the Pea in the Podcast blog when I get it.

In the meantime, remember, a person with Swine Flu is contagious for 24 hours before they have any symptoms, so practice good clean hand hygiene. WASH OR SANITIZE YOUR HANDS BEFORE YOU TOUCH YOUR FACE. Seriously, that’s hard because we touch our faces all the time. But it’s important.

If people are coughing or sneezing, walk away.

If you are coughing or sneezing, please do it into your sleeve and not your hands. After all, you may be the one who is incubating H1N1! ;)

My previous blog postings on H1N1 can be found at the following links…

Listen to the advice of an obstetrician here

Listen to the inside scoop about the clinical vaccine trials on pregnant women with one of the doctors working on them here

And listen to a nationally recognized pediatrician give some controversial advice regarding the H1N1 vaccine here

I urge you to add the Pea in the Podcast blog to your internet favorites. I will keep you hooked up with all of the latest news on pregnancy and parenting…and I am following the H1N1 vaccine story for you very closely. Everything you need to know is here. :)

Win A Copy Of “What To Expect When You’re Expecting” From Pea in the Podcast!

You know you want one!

I know you’re listening to your pregnancy week-by-week Pea in the Podcasts religiously ;) , but it’s wonderful to have a book to which to refer during this joyous yet uncertain time of your life, and What to Expect When You’re Expecting is the gold standard.

That’s why we’re giving away copies of WTE to some of our devoted listeners. How cool is that?

To enter to get your own free copy of “What to Expect” from Pea in the Podcast, you can do one — or all — of the following, depending on how many times you want to enter…

Each additional step taken counts for 1 additional entry. A total of 4 entries are available if you complete all of these steps. Please leave a separate comment at the Pea in the Podcast Blog for each step you complete!

The giveaway ends at 12 pm pst on Tuesday, October 27th, 2009.

I’m so excited about this, and I hope you are, too.

Good Luck!

Child Discipline: An Important Discussion

Oh, yeah. I’m going there. ;)

Many of you who are pregnant may not have given a lot of thought yet to how you plan to discipline your child, because you won’t have to discipline them for awhile. After all, you can’t spoil an infant! They are developmentally unable to “manipulate” you, so giving in to an infant’s requests for assistance (crying) whenever they request it (cry) will not make them a “brat” later in life. Infancy is when babies learn to trust, by learning to trust that you will be there for them when they need you (cry).

However, how you plan to discipline your child isn’t something you can really improvise. You do need think about it. You need to talk about it with your partner. You may find you have vastly different ideas about how to discipline your child than your partner does, and you’ll need to talk those through. You will need to make choices, and you will need to inform your family and extended support system about the choices you’ve made.

Why am I writing about this today? Two recent studies have been on my mind, and I wanted to share them with you.

First, there’s this….

Childhood Exposure To Violence Is More Common Than Thought

Then, there’s this study…

Spanking Detrimental To Children

Let me be clear. This post is not going to be a diatribe against corporal punishment. Many parents choose to spank. Spanking can be an effective disciplinary tool, if done in a certain way. We’ll talk more about that later.

This post is about violence, though, and often children are exposed to this violence when they are being disciplined.

Let’s start by taking a look at some info from the first study…

New research just published finds that U.S. children are routinely exposed to even more violence and abuse than has been previously recognized. Nearly half of the children surveyed have said they experienced a physical assault in the past year.

According to the research, three out of five children were exposed to violence, abuse or a criminal victimization in the last year, including 46 percent who had been physically assaulted, 10 percent who had been maltreated by a caregiver, 6 percent who had been sexually victimized, and 10 percent who had witnessed an assault within their family.

Those numbers upset me, but they don’t surprise Wendy Middlemiss, Ph.D. and Associate Professor in the Development and Family Studies program at the University of North Texas (she is also my academic adviser as I pursue my Master’s Degree in Development and Family Studies). She says, as a culture, we don’t protect our children from violence.

We should.

Our culture is saturated with violence. You’ll see it in even the most benign adult programing. It is common in certain types of children’s programming. It’s in video games. It’s everywhere. There’s not much we can do about the culture, right now, but we can do the best we can to monitor how much violence our children are exposed to.

I’ve always found it curious that so many parents are scrupulous about protecting their kids from exposure to displays of affection, in the culture and on TV, or get all bent out of shape when their kids see a woman nursing their hungry infant (even if they are seeing no breast at all), yet don’t give a second thought to allowing them to play the most violent video games. Exposure to affection is not harmful. Exposure to violence is.

Which brings us to our spanking study….

A new study of more than 2,500 toddlers from low-income families found that spanking may have detrimental effects on behavior and mental development.

“We’re talking about infants and toddlers, and I think that just, cognitively, they just don’t understand enough about right or wrong or punishment to benefit from being spanked,” said Lisa Berlin, the study’s lead author and research scientist at the Center for Child and Family Policy at Duke University.

Berlin and colleagues found that children who were spanked as 1-year-olds tended to behave more aggressively at age 2, and did not perform as well as other children on a test measuring thinking skills at age 3. (bolding added by me)

They chose to observe low income families for a reason…

The new study focused on children from low-income families because prior research suggested that spanking is more common among them, Berlin said. This may be because of the added stresses of parenting in a low-income situation, or because of a “cultural contagion” of behaviors among people. For example, in some families this study examined, a grandmother would spank a child, or neighbors would encourage physical discipline, she said.

But spanking of toddlers isn’t unique to low income families, so if you’re from a middle or high income family, don’t tune out now!

I promised this was not going to be a diatribe against spanking, and it’s not. Dr. Middlemiss says you can spank children (NOT toddlers…please don’t ever hit your toddler) without causing them harm.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has some interesting points in its policy statement on corporal punishment, should you decide to use spanking as one of your disciplinary tools…
Despite its common acceptance, and even advocacy for its use, spanking is a less effective strategy than time-out or removal of privileges for reducing undesired behavior in children. Although spanking may immediately reduce or stop an undesired behavior, its effectiveness decreases with subsequent use. The only way to maintain the initial effect of spanking is to systematically increase the intensity with which it is delivered, which can quickly escalate into abuse. Thus, at best, spanking is only effective when used in selective infrequent situations.

The following consequences of spanking lessen its desirability as a strategy to eliminate undesired behavior.

* Spanking children between the behavior and the punishment.

* Although spanking may result in a reaction of shock by the child and cessation of the undesired behavior, repeated spanking may cause agitated, aggressive behavior in the child that may lead to physical altercation between parent and child.

* Spanking models aggressive behavior as a solution to conflict and has been associated with increased aggression in pres
chool and school children.

* Spanking and threats of spanking lead to altered parent-child relationships, making discipline substantially more difficult when physical punishment is no longer an option, such as with adolescents.

* Spanking is no more effective as a long-term strategy than other approaches, and reliance on spanking as a discipline approach makes other discipline strategies less effective to use. Time-out and positive reinforcement of other behaviors are more difficult to implement and take longer to become effective when spanking has previously been a primary method of discipline.

* A pattern of spanking may be sustained or increased. Because spanking may provide the parent some relief from anger, the likelihood that the parent will spank the child in the future is increased.

Parents who spank their children are more likely to use other unacceptable forms of corporal punishment. The more children are spanked, the more anger they report as adults, the more likely they are to spank their own children, the more likely they are to approve of hitting a spouse, and the more marital conflict they experience as adults. Spanking has been associated with higher rates of physical aggression, more substance abuse, and increased risk of crime and violence when used with older children and adolescents.

I don’t tell you this to tell you not to spank. I tell you this so you can be aware of what traps other parents have fallen into when making this particular choice, so you can avoid them.

That said, my four-year-old has never been hit by an adult, and hopefully never will be. I grew up in a household where the spanking was hitting. It was done in anger and done often. It was violence.

I cannot bring myself to spank.

However, I didn’t want to raise an out-of-control-monster-child! I found the book Love and Logic Magic for Early Childhood: Practical Parenting from Birth to Six Years to be very helpful. There are also Love and Logic DVDs. There is also Positive Discipline: The First Three Years, if you’re like me and don’t want to spank. Even though some of what I’ve read doesn’t fit for my daughter and me, I take what is helpful and leave the rest.

We all do that, I think, in every aspect of parenting, as we create our own family “style.”

By the way, one of the most common reasons discipline edges into abuse in toddlers is parents just don’t know what their babies should be capable of, and at what ages. The book Touchpoints: Birth to Three by T. Berry Brazelton should be in every new parent’s library. It was invaluable to me.

So that’s what’s on my mind today. It’s a lot more than I thought, actually!

Just a note — and this is strictly my opinion — if someone gives you the book On Becoming Babywise, please don’t bother reading it. Recycle it. Don’t give it away, don’t sell it to Half Priced Books…recycle it. It is full of flawed information, written by people not trained in child development, as is detailed here. Some of the advice in the book can be harmful to the health and well-being of your child. Some of it is fine, but can be picked up elsewhere by reading more reliable sources. Those of you who might jump to the conclusion that child development experts don’t like this book because it claims to be teaching parenting from a religious perspective should note that many people who teach parenting from a religious perspective also denounce this book.

For much more on parenting your newborn, please listen to these Pea in the Podcasts, Caring for your Newborn and Baby Boot Camp. :)

Swine Flu Update: Pregnant Women May Not Be First In Line

I spoke with Doug McBride at the Texas Department of Health last night. He says the feds will start shipping out small allotments of H1N1 vaccine to states next week. Out of the 15 million doses Texas expects to eventually get, it may only get 270,000. More likely, it will get 170,000…and they expect that shipment to contain only FluMist vaccines.

Why is that important to you, preggo (I say that lovingly)? Because you can’t take a nasal spray vaccine. FluMist contains a live, attenuated virus. It could make you sick.

You can only get the shot.

What’s happening in Texas will happen everywhere. Each state will get a small batch next week, which will be divided between the counties. They expect the batches they are shipped to get larger every week until they get all the vaccine they expect to get.

Each state will decide on its own what to do with the first small shipment. In Texas, they will begin immunizing toddlers.