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When trying to conceive, you may have loads of questions about what can affect your ability to become pregnant. There are all kinds of fertility influencers, and one that often crops up on the list is the environment. Specifically discussed by Emily Bartlett and Laura Erlich in their book, Feed Your Fertility, are chemical compounds that may affect your hormones.
For starters, we need to talk about xenoestrogens because they have the potential to have a direct effect on your fertility, your health, and your future offspring.
Xenoestrogens are chemical compounds that imitate estrogen in the body. They can be either naturally occurring or synthetic.
Synthetic xenoestrogens are extremely prevalent in our environment and include things such as PCBs (in insulation and oil-based paints), BPA (in plastic), and phthalates (in cosmetics, lubricants, food packaging, and more).
Xenoestrogens are a problem because they act as endocrine disruptors, basically filling the receptors for true estrogen in the body, which is an issue whether you’re starting with too much, too little, or just the right amount of this hormone in the first place.
The resulting hormone imbalance directly interferes with reproductive health and has also been associated with early puberty in both boys and girls. Here are some guidelines to minimize your xenoestrogen exposure:
- Do not drink from plastic water bottles that have been heated up by the sun or sitting in a hot car. It’s best not to reuse plastic water bottles—glass or stainless steel is optimal.both easy to make and easy on your wallet.
- Buy organic produce, meats, and dairy products to avoid pesticides and hormones.
- Store your food in glass containers; avoid plastic as much as possible, and definitely
do not microwave or bake food in plastic.
- If you’ve been a smoker of any substance, we’re going to assume that you’ve quit. (If not, talk to your acupuncturist about a plan ASAP.) If your family or friends smoke, steer clear as much as possible, making sure that anyone you live with moves his or her habit to the patio at the very least.
- If you paint or otherwise work with toxic chemicals, reduce your exposure as much as possible, and—in addition to your nutrient-dense diet—make sure to supplement with glutathione and other antioxidants discussed in the book)
- Ditch the perfumes. They may smell nice, but the chemicals in synthetic scents may disrupt your hormones. Avoid them in all forms—spray-ons, lotions, deodorants, air fresheners, etc. Essential oils make an excellent replacement.
- Do you want to make a healthy baby and have a healthy pregnancy?
- Are you interested in a holistic approach to fertility?
- Do you need to optimize your fertility due to your age or health conditions?
- Are you trying to conceive and experiencing challenges?
Very few women and men expect to have trouble when it comes to having a family, and coming up against obstacles can bring about epic levels of stress. Deciding what steps to take can be absolutely baffling.
The good news is that Feed Your Fertility is here to help you. Inside, fertility professionals and authors Emily Bartlett and Laura Erlich will guide you on a path to making the nutritional and lifestyle changes you need to help support healthy fertility and pregnancy. Inside you’ll learn:
- How your lifestyle may be inhibiting your ability to conceive – and what to do about it
- Why popular fertility diets may be leading you down the wrong road
- What foods to eat to optimize and nourish your fertility, and how to adopt a real foods diet
- How to determine your personal health imbalances that may be interfering with your fertility
- How to use Chinese medicine to bring your body into balance and improve your odds of conception
- How to streamline your supplements and take only what you really need
- Your natural and medical treatment options for common fertility issues
- How to navigate the medical fertility world and when to seek help
Get your pregnancy on track the natural, time-tested way and enjoy your journey to motherhood with Feed Your Fertility.
Believe it or not, spring is finally (officially) upon us. We are seeing longer days, bright sunshine, and signs that the giant mounds of snow are starting to recede.
After a long winter of staying inside, the spring is a perfect time to reconnect with nature by taking a hike. Scrambling up by a stream will provide some added bonuses–the soothing sound of rushing water, beautiful scenery, and–if you got a lot of snow this winter–a chance to see a memorable winter melt.
Here are some tips on stream scrambling from the book “100 Family Adventures,” by the Meek Family (Tim, Kerry, Amy and Ella Meek).
Scrambling up a stream valley feels like a really rugged adventure that offers challenge, risk and usually stunning views that get better the higher you climb.
The ideas is simply to find a mountain or hill stream and walk against the flow towards the upland source, sticking as close to you can to the water at all times. The lower, flatter sections will be gentle and relaxing, but as the journey progresses, the scramble over rocks and boulders will become more challenging and exhilarating.
As with most family adventures, as long as there are no specific time restrictions, don’t rush; take your time and look back regularly to take in the views. A casual pace will ensure careful foot placement and reduce the chance of unwanted trips and falls.
This adventure activity, by its very nature, involves some danger and risk–obviously the more difficult the route, such as a steep gradient, rocky or slippery terrain, the greater the risk. For this reason, if you are taking young adventurers out stream scrambling, it is sensible to do a ‘recce’ (reconnaissance) beforehand to ensure the level of challenge is appropriate.
Any successful scrambles you complete can be revisited when the conditions are cold and snowy. The difficulty level will be upped, of course. So bear that in mind, but so too will the sense of achievement and reward.
TIPS AND CONSIDERATIONS
- Ensure all scramblers have sturdy and supportive footwear, ideally boots
- Plan your route carefully beforehand using a suitable map. Use the internet to research proposed routes
- Turn back if you find the difficulty level is beyond the weakest member of the group
- Always have a suitable map with you in case you have to abort the challenge and find an alternate route
- ‘Spot’ youngsters on steep sections (this involves standing behind them with arms outstretched in the air, ready to provide assistance should a slip or fall occur)
Childhood obesity is increasing year on year. Happiness and well-being levels in children are on the decline too. Children spend less time outside and more time in front of screens: computers, phones, games, television.
100 Family Adventures provides a valuable resource bank of tried and tested outdoor activities to enjoy with children, swapping ‘screen time’ for ‘green time’. Particularly inspiring for people who want to get started, but don’t know how, the book shows how any family, anywhere in the country, can enjoy time together outdoors.
Activities are grouped into themes: Woodland, Water, Close to Home, Hills and Mountains, Exploring, By the Sea, Extreme Weather. Within each section is a range in difficulty, from making a rope swing to scrambling up a stream, from spending a day without electricity to going on a charity bike ride, from exploring a rockpool to camping on an uninhabited island.
Packed with inspiring photos, sensible but enthusiastic instructions from parents Tim and Kerry combine with remarks and advice (and jokes!) from children Amy and Ella.
One of the keys to a comfortable pregnancy is helping your body adjust to the changes that take place as your baby grows.
Over the course of your pregnancy, the extra weight and unique positioning challenges can put added stress on your lower back, hips and core, and anything you can do to tone and strengthen those muscles will help to make you more comfortable.
As chidbirth and postpartum educator Robin Weiss explains in her book, “The Complete Illustrated Pregnancy Companion,” a balance ball can help to strengthen your core and improve your posture, thus reducing the chances of discomfort.
“A birth ball is the same thing as an exercise or physiotherapy ball. A birth ball is very useful for the duration of pregnancy and not simply the labor and birth portion.
“You can use a birth ball to replace your desk chair or to help you exercise. The benefits of using a birth ball in place of your regular chair are many, including helping with your posture. Because posture is a key factor in reducing back strain and pain in pregnancy, you will want to pay attention to this even in your everyday life, such as when you are sitting at a desk.
When you sit on a birth ball, you are forced to sit up straight, which helps align your back and pelvis. Sitting on a birth ball at your desk, dining room table, and wherever you sit will improve your posture, which means less backache.
In addition to using a birth ball as a chair, you can do exercises on it. You can rent or buy videos devoted to birth ball exercises, including ones that are just for pregnancy. They focus on stretching, aerobics, and improving your overall health. Many women choose to use birth balls while giving birth.
Many hospitals and birth centers supply their own balls to patients in labor. If your hospital or birth center does not, you will need to provide your own.
Birth balls come in three sizes. The one that’s right for you is based on your height, according to the following guide:
- 4’8″ to 5’5″ takes a 55 centimeter (cm) ball (55 centimeters=approximately 21.5 inches)
5’6″ to 6’0″ takes a 65-centimer ball (65 cm= 25.5 inches)
- 6’0″ plus takes a 75 cm centimeter ball (75 cm=29.5 inches)
You should make sure that you select a birth ball that is meant for sitting on and will bear your weight. Some people have been tempted to purchase less expensive balls that are meant as children’s toys. This can be dangerous for you to sit and exercise upon.
Suzy Clarkson has devised a practical guide to assist woman through their pregnancies at a later age. Clarkson had her first child at 39, and her second at 45. Her book is designed to help women over the age of 35 with the unique challenges of pregnancy at a later age. The key to Clarkson’s approach is to combine fitness with your pregnancy.
As Dr. Dereck Souter says in his introduction, “Pregnancy is an ideal time for a woman to start reviewing her lifestyle and diet to ensure not only a good pass in the test of pregnancy is achieved, but also that the basis of a healthy lifestyle is established.
The books provides a realistic, balanced exercise program for pregnancy, acknowledging that pregnancy can have a significant effect on energy levels and there will be both good and bad days.
CORE STABILITY AND POSTURE
Core stability and posture are inextricably linked. A strong, stable core enhances good posture. During pregnancy, how you hold yourself will naturally adjust to accommodate your changing shape and weight as your uterus and baby grow.
The relaxing and loosening effect of pregnancy hormones on your ligaments and joints also makes you more susceptible to sagging, poor posture. What was a small lower back curve, can become exaggerated as your tummy extends forwards. This can put extra strain on your already stretched abdominals and more stress on your spine.
Heavier, fuller breasts can cause you to round your shoulders and slump forwards, which in terms forces your chin to jut forward, placing extra stress down the back of your neck (cervical spine). Due to your increasing weight, you will probably stand with your feet apart for balance, and that in itself can apply different stresses to the hips and lower back. Core strengthening exercises will help minmize and alleviate the postural strain and stresses on your pregnant body.
Your spine has four curves, three moveable, one fixed. Beginning at the top, the concave curve of the neck moving down tho the slightly convex curve of the upper back, then to the concave curve of the lower back, and finally the fixed convex curve of the triangular bone that forms the rear wall of the pelvis–the sacrum. These curves are essential to the spine begin able to function well.
Good posture does not attempt to eliminate the curves; instead, it should eliminate any exaggeration. and aim for balance between them. Erect upright posture improves your health and wellbeing, your muscles function better, you are able to breathe deeper and your self-esteem will be boosted by a confident stance.
Be ware of how you stand, walk, sit and lift during pregnancy. A little care and self-correction in order to maintain good posture can really help you avoid discomfort. Not many of us have perfect posture to begin with, so if you have been out of alignment for years, then correcting yourself is going to initially feel weird. Correcting little and often, is the key,so every time you pass a mirror do a quick “self check and restack.”
STANDING SMART WHEN PREGNANT
Working down the body from your head to the feet, run through this postural alignment for good standing posture.
Chin tucked to that your eyes are looking forward, slid your chin back towards your spine (retraction), shoulders down and back, tuck your tailbone slightly under, feet hip distance apart, knees soft and not locked into extension. Finally, lengthen through your mid-section by extending the gap between your ribs and hips.
Try imagining a plumb line attached to the very apex of your skull and gently pulling you up a few centimeters. It is often not until you go through this checklist and restack your body that you realize how slumped you were. The next time you are standing in a queue at the supermarket or petrol station—stop, check and restack.
SITTING SMART WHEN PREGNANT
You may think that slouching on a couch is resting your body, but that is not the case when it comes to your lower back. Sloppy sitting puts a lot of pressure on the discs in your back; the spongy bits between the bony vertebrae. Lying applies the least amount of disc pressure; when standing the pressure is four times greater than in lying, but when sitting it is a whopping 16 times higher. That is why when you have a sore back, sitting is one of the worst positions to be in for any length of time, as any increased disc pressure can exacerbate discomfort.
However, sitting is something we do a lot every day and that’s not going to change, so here’s how to sit smart. Your anchor points are your sit bones (ischial tuberosities). Beware of sitting evenly on your sit bones, as the process of elongating and stacking your spine correctly starts right from the sit bones and continues all the way up to the top of your neck.
Be aware of maintaining the small natural curve in your lower back. Try using a small pillow, lumbar roll or rolled-up towel to help you maintain that natural lower back curve, and make sure you shuffle your butt to the back of the seat.
Then, “sit tall,” by lifting your rib cage away from your pelvis, creating a sense of elongation in your mid region. Finally, roll your shoulders back and won. Long car trips or plane flights can be particularly troublesome for backs, so if you are traveling for any length of time, use a lower back arch support as suggested above.
Many older women spend months, if not years, trying for motherhood, then endure an anxious pregnancy wondering if they are eating and exercising properly. Fitness expert Suzy Clarkson has been there. Her first pregnancy at the age of 38 was relatively trouble-free, but trying to get pregnant again a few years later was very different. Following fertility treatment, she finally gave birth to her second child at the age of 45.
Qualified in physiotherapy, Suzy has now devised a practical guide to assist older women through their pregnancies, using her own experiences of motherhood to support her text. This easy-to-follow fitness program will take you through each trimester, showing suitable exercises and suggesting how to develop healthy habits to achieve a safe outcome, a successful childbirth and a speedy recovery afterwards. The book is fully illustrated with step-by-step photographs showing the exercises in detail. The information she provides is based on the latest research, and is endorsed by leading specialists in obstetrics and fertility.
But the book is more than its exercises. Suzy is a ‘real mum’ who offers encouragement and a compassionate helping hand to all older mothers. Fit for Birth and Beyond is the guide you can trust and use with confidence.
If the cold temperatures and bad weather have you and your family figuratively climbing the walls this winter, then maybe it is time to get your family literally climbing some walls!
As parents Tim and Kerry Meek explain in their fun new book, 100 Family Adventures, rock climbing can provide families with a fun physical and mental challenge. When done safely and under the guidance of experts, rock climbing can also be an ideal place to test your limits and push past your fear of heights.
Here’s what Tim and Kerry say about indoor climbing in their book:
You can never be too young or too old to try indoor climbing. If climbing to heights that make you feel woozy and light headed (as if you are going to expire) are not your thin, than having a go at a climbing wall will push you out of your comfort zone, which can’t be a bad thing, can it?
Most youngsters won’t think twice about putting on a safety harness and scrabbling up a wall, placing their trust in three things: a harness (around their waist or body), a rope (fixed to their harness), and a belayer (the preson attached to the other end of the rope, stood on the ground below the climber).
Some children and adults, however, may need a little gentle coaxing, and if this is the case, they should not be rushed. Let worried climbers take their time to build up confidence in themselves and the whole experience. A band initial experience might put them off climbing for good, so encouragement and support the the watchwords.
Many climbing centers offer taster days, party packages and formal courses, as well as membership and equipment hire; they really do cater to all ages and abilities. Using a recognized provider gives you peace of mind that the equipment and walls are regularly inspected and maintained and are therefore safe and reliable. They are also accustomed to first-time or timid climbers and have ways of encouraging most people on to the wall.
Bouldering is another consideration for wannabe climbers or those families looking for an indoor exercise or challenge. It doesn’t involve ropes, so the aim is not to go as high as you can, but to compete graded routes, emphasizing technique and efficiency. Incidentally, bouldering is popular within the climbing community and competitions are regularly held for competitive types.
Look up your local climbing center for information on how to get started or to find out when the next bouldering competition is being held.
DID YOU KNOW?
The highest climbing wall in the world is 37 meters/40 yards high.
Childhood obesity is increasing year on year. One of the reasons for this is inactivity. Children spend less time outside and more time in front of screens (computers, phones, games, television). Happiness and well-being levels in children are on the decline too. Physical activity causes the release of ‘feel good’ endorphins into the body. 100 Family Adventures provides parents with a valuable resource bank of tried and tested outdoor activities for them to enjoy with their children, wherever they live. Particularly inspiring for people who want to get started, but don’t know how, the book will help all family members foster a positive mindset that sees challenges as opportunities to rise to; and family time outdoors as great fun and highly rewarding.
Tim and Kerry Meek, teachers from Nottingham, England, are just regular parents striving to bring up their two daughters, Amy (11) and Ella (9), as best they can. Their approach to parenting is one full of love and care, but one that is also deliberately punctuated with managed risk and age-appropriate challenge. This means slightly less cotton wool than the norm is used to wrap up their children, and opportunities to explore, discover and enjoy adventure and outdoor quality family time are sought and seized whenever possible. Their mantra “Adventure is out there; you just have to go and find it.” is a quote that Amy expressed when she was 7 years old. It remains at the core of everything they do as a family.
Sometimes you just want to be a cool parent. Well, we’ve got a great activity from Liz Lee Heinecke’s book, Kitchen Science Lab for Kids that is a great way to bond with your family with fun activities that teach a lot of important science basics, too.
TODAY ONLY: For an amazing $2.99 on Amazon Kindle, you can take this amazing book with you anywhere! Get it here!
Excerpted from Kitchen Science Lab for Kids by Liz Heinecke
- 2 cups (200 grams) whole fresh cranberries
- Medium-size lidded pot
- 3 1/3 cups (710 ml) water, plus more for step 7, if needed
- Sieve or colander
- Casserole dish or baking pan large enough to hold a sheet of paper
- Baking soda
- 1/3 cup (80 ml) warm water
- All-purpose printer paper
- Cotton swabs, paintbrushes, or cake-pop sticks
- Lemon juice (optional)
Safety Tips and Hints
Boiling the berries should be done by an adult. Keep the lid on the pot because the air pockets that make cranberries float can also make them explode. Kids can take over once the juice is cool.
You may have to try more than one kind of paper. There are instructions for testing your paper in the protocol.
A cake-pop stick or a cotton swab with the ends cut off make the best pens to use with the “invisible ink” in this experiment.
Step 3: To collect the concentrated cranberry juice, crush the cooked berries and push the liquid through a sieve or colander into a casserole dish or pan that is big enough to hold a piece of paper.
Step 4: Allow the juice to cool. If your cranberry juice seems thick and syrupy, add a little water so that it’s thin enough to soak into paper!
Step 5: Test the paper you want to use by cutting a small piece and soaking it in the cranberry juice. If it stays pink, it will work, but if it turns blue or gray immediately, try some other paper.
Step 6: Make invisible ink by adding a few teaspoons (about 9 g) of baking soda to 1/3 cup (80 ml) of warm water and stir well. Don’t worry if you can still see some baking soda. You can also write messages with lemon juice.
Step 7: With a pen made from cotton swab, paintbrush, or cake-pop stick, use the baking soda solution and/or lemon juice as ink to write a message on your paper. It may take a little practice. Let your message air dry, or speed things up with a blow dryer.
The Science Behind the Fun
Cranberries contain pigments called anthocyanins (an-tho-SY-a-nins) that give them their bright color. In nature, these pigments attract birds and other animals to fruit.
These pigments, called flavanoids, change color when they come in contact with acids and bases. Cranberry juice is very acidic, and the pigment is pink in acids, but when you add it to a base, it turns purple or blue.
Baking soda is a base, so your baking soda message will turn blue when it comes into contact with the pigments in the cranberry juice. Eventually, when enough cranberry juice soaks into the paper, it will dilute the baking soda, turning the pigment back to red and your message will disappear!
There are over three hundred kinds of anthocyanins, which are found in many fruits and vegetables. Scientists believe they may have many health benefits.
What other natural acid/base indicators could you use to do this experiment? What else could you use as ink?
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At-home science provides an environment for freedom, creativity and invention that is not always possible in a school setting. In your own kitchen, it’s simple, inexpensive, and fun to whip up a number of amazing science experiments using everyday ingredients. Science can be as easy as baking. Hands-On Family: Kitchen Science Lab for Kids offers 52 fun science activities for families to do together. The experiments can be used as individual projects, for parties, or as educational activities groups. Kitchen Science Lab for Kids will tempt families to cook up some physics, chemistry and biology in their own kitchens and back yards. Many of the experiments are safe enough for toddlers and exciting enough for older kids, so families can discover the joy of science together.
Liz Heinecke has loved science since she was old enough to inspect her first butterfly.
After working in molecular biology research for ten years and getting her master’s degree, she left the lab to kick off a new chapter in her life as a stay-at-home mom. Soon she found herself sharing her love of science with her three kids as they grew, journaling their science adventures on her KitchenPantryScientist website.
Her desire to spread her enthusiasm for science to others soon led to a regular segment on her local NBC affiliate, an opportunity to serve as an Earth Ambassador for NASA, and the creation of an iPhone app, with the goal of making it simple for parents to do science with kids of all ages, and for kids to experiment safely on their own.
You can find her at home in Minnesota, wrangling her kids, writing for her website, updating the KidScience app, teaching microbiology to nursing students, singing, playing banjo, painting, running, and doing almost anything else to avoid housework.
Liz graduated from Luther College and received her master’s degree in bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.