Friday, May 31, 2013

Batch of links - On fetal origins and such

- The Engineer and I are both currently reviewing our music collections to eliminate songs with “inappropriate content” from the rotation, where innocent ears might pick up things they should not. (This doesn’t mean we’re deleting the songs from our hard drives or getting rid of albums, just removing them from playlists accessible to the shuffle function.) It’s a slow process, especially for me, and I’m just flabbergasted at how many awesome songs are now deemed inappropriate! I was therefore tickled when I came across Rockabye Baby, which has instrumental versions of rock songs that are all appropriate for babies! I particularly liked The Hand That Feeds by Nine Inch Nails and Sunday Bloody Sunday by U2. That being said, they also have songs that we deemed perfectly appropriate in their original version, like most of the Beatles’ catalog. Overall, I’d say we would consider get some albums if the production quality were (much) higher, but as it is, we find it a funny novelty product.

- Here’s something that few people know, including in the LI community: during pregnancy, roughly a third of women experience no change in their lactose-intolerance symptoms, while another third see improvement and the last third gets more sensitive. Of the two thirds that see any change, some revert back to their normal self after pregnancy, but others keep operating at that new level of lactose (in)tolerance. Doctors don’t know why, but postulate it could be because of hormonal changes. Can’t we have some studies on this? Anyway, I personally haven’t experienced any changes, but then again I’m not having lactose very often to begin with. I think I’ll do some gentle testing in the coming weeks to see if I could indulge a bit more until July, though I have very little hope of working my way up to a piece of cheesecake or the things I’ve been craving lately, like an Oreo milkshake, a Dairy Queen Blizzard or a soft-serve vanilla ice cream cone covered in chocolate (craving as in “I haven’t had those in forever and really miss them these days”, not as in “I’m pregnant and want weird things”).

- Have you ever paused to think about how many different ways you can get potentially dangerous chemicals in your body, thereby possible affecting your fetus? (If you never gave it any thought, you might want to remain blissfully ignorant and skip this paragraph). Here is a really interesting Time article on fetal origins explaining how scientists are tracing higher rates of diseases like cancer, heart disease, obesity and depression to the fetal environment! This field of study is still in its infancy (no pun intended), so there aren’t really any strong recommendations for expectant mothers on things to avoid or aim for, but it’s still pretty scary to think that something I’m doing right now could increase my child’s odds of certain diseases. Plus, another Time article pointed out the side effects on the fetus of certain chemicals. For example, “babies with higher prenatal exposure to pesticides had lower IQs in childhood that those born to women with less exposure. Most of the contact, said the scientists, came from pesticide residue on fruits and vegetables.” What scares me most here is that even eating strictly organic produce wouldn’t prevent that, since certain types of pesticides are still used on certified organic fruits and vegetables… So I’m trying to walk that fine line between “I’m doing everything I can to make sure my baby has the best chances” and “I will not drive myself insane by seeing poison everywhere”.

- On the bright side, though, fetuses do develop memories, and you can make them good ones.

- This type of concern is of course still an issue after birth, as even leading brands of baby products contain carcinogenic chemicals (which they intend to phase out, but when?). Not to mention the iconic Sophie the giraffe, which would not meet standards if it were classified as the “teether/soother” it is instead of as a “toy”. And yet I’m still considering giving it to the baby eventually, though I’m holding off a bit in case the manufacturer starts making a safer one in the next few months…

- Once again, on the bright side, there are some things we don’t need to worry about anymore. For example, we now know for a fact that vaccines don’t cause autism (and here’s a link with a very-easy-to-understand summary of the situation if you’ve missed the whole debacle). For the record, I realize how scary it must have been when doubts were first raised about the MMR vaccine and its possible link to autism, and it sure doesn’t help when celebrities add to the confusion just because they’ve got a platform, but we know better now. And for those who are trying to find an eloquent way to educate people around them, try this open letter.

- I never did talk about my prenatal vitamins, did I? I was in a bit of a bind because I have trouble swallowing pills. Something itty bitty like a birth control pill is fine, but “normal-sized” pills don’t get past me. When I asked my obgyn in Montreal if he could recommend a good brand of chewable prenatal vitamins, he laughed and said I should just chew the regular ones. I was skeptical, and with good reason – it was the foulest thing ever. I resorted to cutting pills in halves or quarters, but decided I was done with that after choking several times. I tried crushing them and adding them to apple sauce, but that was gross too, regardless of the brand I used. I finally found what I stuck to for over two years: a combination of chewable B12 with folic acid (by Swiss Natural Sources) plus chewable multivitamins (by Jamieson). While I loved the folic acid pill, I have to admit I wasn’t crazy about the packaging: see below how the jar is a regular size, but contains only 60 tiny pills at the bottom? I wish they’d put more in the jar instead of wasting all that packaging in air. Anyway, while I loved those vitamins, they proved impossible to get in the States, even with the help of the internet, so I’m now taking Bellybar prenatal vitamins. They don’t taste as good as my previous brands, but they’re not that bad either. I had considered gummy vitamins, which are the most widely recommended, but those don’t contain iron (!), so I wanted something more complete. There are liquid vitamins, too, but if you do the math, that gets really expensive (what I saw would have run me something like $8 a week, whereas now it’s just under $10 a month). Anyway, I’m hoping this will help other women who have trouble finding the right vitamins…

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