Friday, June 22, 2012

Stressed New Mom? Try Blogging

We all know that new moms have tons and tons of free time, right? (hey folks, my tongue is firmly in cheek!) Okay, new moms may feel stressed and overwhelmed, particularly as our society has become more fragmented, with families and friends often miles away, if not in another country altogether. The sense of community that used to help so many new moms over the generations may not be there anymore, but there is a new type of community that may be able to take its place. It's found on the Internet and it is, believe it or not, blogging.

Email and Skyping with friends and family is a great way to stay in touch, but blogging - the modern form of journaling - can be an effective way to get out thoughts and feelings, and promote discussion among others, contributing to that sense of community.

This topic was interesting enough to catch the eye of researchers from Brigham Young University who surveyed 157 new mothers about their media use and their well-being. After assessing the survey responses, the researchers found that there was a significant correlation between a strong connection to family and friends, and increased feelings of social support. When this happened, there was higher marital satisfaction and less parenting stress reported. Interestingly, using social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc) was neither helpful or not helpful.

The moms were asked to rate their feelings on scales that corresponded to the various items, which included how much time was spent on different activities, such as sleeping, childcare, housework, and computer usage. The totalled amounts showed that women spent the most of time on childcare (9 hours per day) and sleep (7 hours per day) and the third most time-consuming activity? That was using the Internet, which weighed in at about 3 hours per day.

According to a press release describing the study findings, "The researchers found that 61 percent of the mothers surveyed wrote their own blogs and 76 percent read blogs. Eight-nine percent of the mothers who wrote their own blogs did so to 'document personal experiences or share them with others,' and 86 percent wanted to stay in touch with family and friends through the blog."

What do you think? If you're a new mom, do you blog or participate in other blogs? If you're an older mom, do you wish you had this type of outlet when your children were younger?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Alcohol Consumption and Pregnancy - A Divisive Topic

Does a pregnant woman who drinks a glass of wine put her unborn child at risk? If it's ok to drink a glass of wine, is two ok? Three? A beer? A cooler? Is any alcohol acceptable during pregnancy?

If you ask this question, it's very likely you will get very strong opinions on either side and not much leeway in between. But is alcohol really so bad? Or is it something that you might as well avoid, since it's only for the duration of pregnancy (and nursing, if breastfeeding follows).

A Danish study, published yesterday in BJOG: An International Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, looked at the effects of alcohol consumed during pregnancy on children were now five years old; 1,628 women participated in the study. They were on average 40 years old at the time. Half were first-time mothers.

The researchers looked at the children's IQ, attention span, and ability to perform functions, such as planning, organizing, and maintaining self-control. Binge drinking is not considered to be regular alcohol consumption but, rather, having five or more drinks in one occasion.

How big is a drink?

Whenever a study like this is performed, the definition of a drink must be determined. In this case, the researchers used the Danish National Board of Health guidelines that state one standard drink equals 12 grams of pure alcohol. In the United States, a standard drink is 14 grams, or 6 ounces, while the United Kingdom measures their alcohol in another way, by units. Each unit contains 7.9 grams of pure alcohol.

The researchers defined low average alcohol consumption as one to four drinks per week. Moderate was five to eight drinks per week and high consumption was nine or more drinks per week. 

The study findings

The researchers found that among children whose mother drank up to eight drinks per week, there wasn't a significant difference between them and those children whose mothers had consumed no alcohol while pregnant. However, for children whose mothers drank nine or more drinks per week, there were signs of lower attention skills, and other issues.


This study wasn't meant to be a rousing endorsement of drinking alcohol while pregnant, rather one that worked at finding if problems did result if mothers did drink while pregnant. The authors concluded that "it remains the most conservative advice for women to abstain from alcohol during pregnancy, however, small amounts may not present serious concern." 

So now what?

Some people will argue that it is not worth the risk - there is no need to drink alcohol while pregnant and to do so would be foolhardy to take any chances. Of course, drinking alcohol isn't a "must" in life. But studies like this one do suggest that a woman who is attending an event and wants to have a glass of wine or some other alcoholic drink, should not be made to feel guilty if she chooses to do so.

Women can be very, very harsh on other women who make decisions that they don't agree with. While the decision not to drink alcohol at all during pregnancy may right for one woman and her family, other women may feel differently - and as there is the right to choose not to take a drink, there is also the right to have one, if that is what mom-to-be wants.

What do you think?