Tag Archives: physical health

Whooping Cough

9 May

I live in Washington State, where we are experiencing an epidemic of pertussis (whooping cough). This is particularly scary for me because my child is an infant (the age group most at risk of death), and has not yet completed the DTaP series. What I find particularly difficult about this disease is that most people just present with symptoms that resemble the common cold, a lot of older children and adults may have mild cases that are dismissed as a cold with a persistent cough. You can go online and hear what the “whoop” sounds like, but there are many other symptoms, so the absence of that sound does not mean the absence of pertussis. And in infants, there is usually no whooping.

There is a treatment for pertussis, but prevention is paramount – especially for unvaccinated infants.

1. Children and Adults in contact with infants should be vaccinated. There is a TDaP booster for adults and older children. According to a study discussed on the CDC website, children who had never received a DTaP vaccine are eight times more likely of developing whooping cough than vaccinated children. Vaccination of people infants come in close contact with is called “cocooning”: most infants acquire pertussis through a member of the household, so it is important to protect those people around the infant in order to prevent the infant from acquiring pertussis.

2. Wash hands often. Pertussis is spread through coughing and sneezing, so hand washing (for 20 seconds, enough time to sing “Happy Birthday” twice) before preparing food and eating, as well as after coming in contact with other people, especially children is vital.

3. Limit exposure to high exposure areas. Especially for young infants, it might be necessary during an epidemic (like that in Washington State) to limit a child’s exposure by ensuring play dates are with vaccinated families, and staying away from play areas where there are a lot of children, particularly play areas inside and with toys that children can put in their mouths.

For more information, visit the CDC website.

Simple Dinner 4 – Tomato Soup

6 Mar

I love soup! Whenever I go out to eat (which is sadly not too often these days), if there is soup I order a bowl. But, as much as I want to like tomato soup I am usually disappointed. This is a bit of a problem as my partner really enjoys tomato soup. I think I may have found a solution; a tomato soup that is full of veggies and contains no cream. I served this soup with grilled cheese sandwiches, making for a light, filling, and very comforting meal!

*I think this could be greatly improved by using fresh tomatoes, but it is not tomato season, and with the other veggies, the canned ones tasted fine.*

Tomato Soup

Ingredients

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 onion, chopped

3 celery stalks, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

1 garlic clove, chopped

2 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 large can diced tomato

1 small can tomato paste

salt and pepper to taste

Directions

1. In a large pot heat the oil then add in the onion, celery, carrot, and garlic, cooking on medium heat until soft (about 10 minutes).

2. Add the broth and allow to simmer, cooking the veggies for another 10 minutes.

3. Add in the tomatoes and tomato paste, bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 minutes.

4. I prefer a smoother soup, so using an immersion blender I made a thick soup. This would be just as tasty left as a chunky soup. Before serving, add any salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Simple Dinner – 2

7 Nov

Farro Salad

In my continued search for healthy, tasty, and simple dinners, I think I have found a new addition to my collection. I have made a farro salad before, and while tasty was not a complete meal (in that it did not have protein or vegetables so was more of a side dish). I find that making one complete recipe is easier than making multiple dishes.

Farro is a kind of wheat that is crunchy and nutty-tasty when cooked, but it can be substituted with barley bulgur to make this dish.

Ingredients

1 cup farro

2 heads broccoli

1/4 cup fresh mint

1 can cannellini beans (or chickpeas)

1/4 cup feta cheese

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt and pepper to taste

Spinach (I used bagged and washed baby spinach…it’s too easy!)

Directions

1. Soak farro and cook according to directions on bag (I soaked mine for 2 hours and cooked for 25 minutes). Drain well and transfer to a large bowl.

2. Trim broccoli to small, bite-sized pieces and steam (or roast). If steamed, drain broccoli, and add to the farro.

3. Chop mint, adding to the farro along with the beans, feta, and olive oil, stir ingredients together and add salt and pepper.

4. Let sit (either on the counter or in the fridge if over 30 minutes) before serving.

To get more vegetables, I like to serve a grain salad over spinach, or lettuce.

Enjoy!

Things I was not prepared for #1 – Breastfeeding

5 Oct

While I was pregnant I knew that I would breastfeed my child. The health benefits to the child (eg. reduced risk of SIDS, decreased likeliness of becoming overweight later in life, immune support, etc.) are significant and reason enough for me to choose to nurse. Breastfeeding also offers benefits to mom (eg. increased postpartum weight-loss, reduced risk of developing certain types to cancer [although I believe you need to breastfeed for a cumulative year or more to experience this benefit], etc.) and does not involve the preparation that formula requires, making night feedings slightly easier.

After one week I realized that breastfeeding is an intense choice. I was feeding every hour, and never had a stretch longer than 2 hours for the first month. At almost three months I have a 4-5 hour stretch at night, and feed every 2-3 hours during the day. The books described the bonding that occurs while nursing and encourage just sitting there and enjoying the time with your child. I tried that for a few days, but quickly found that half the time my child is dozing off and not looking into my eyes. Further, as my child prefers being held and worn than laying and sleeping anywhere else feeding is a great time for me to catch up on reading and emails (thanks to the invention of the Kindle and smart phone).

Many people and books also encourage pumping regularly so that your partner, or other caregiver, can give the baby a bottle, allowing mom to sleep (or really do anything besides feed) and the partner/father to bond with the baby. I loved this idea when I was pregnant and was ready with a pump and bottles to start at three weeks (most books and lactation consultants seem to believe that introducing a bottle earlier would create nipple confusion, although there are a LOT of exceptions to that advice).

What I learned as three weeks approached and I was starting to pump is that:

1) milk supply is not established enough to pump in the early weeks/month, so pumping enough for a feeding can take a VERY long time;

2) it requires forethought and careful planning to pump initially (difficult to come by while sleep deprived and recovering from childbirth);

3) babies feed so frequently in the early weeks that making time to pump means giving up time when you could be sleeping; and

4) while your baby is feeding from the bottle you need to pump to maintain your milk supply, which is just as labor and time intensive as feeding your baby.

Finally, I was not prepared for the impact nursing would have on my wardrobe. Everything I wear has to be easy to nurse in, and if I’m planning on going out with my baby I have to wear a top that I can discreetly arrange with one hand under a nursing cover while the other hand is holding a screaming infant. I was so eager to get out of maternity clothes and into my “real” clothes that having another kind of limitation on my clothing choice seemed crushing at first.

And now, time to feed.

Hello world!

3 Oct

Welcome to my blog. I am a new mom trying to maintain my physical and mental health, while also trying to care for and  appropriately stimulate my child, take care of my two dogs, take care of my relationship with my partner, and all the other adult things that need to be done. I hope through my successes and failures I can at least entertain and at most help people. My experience is limited, but growing daily!