“Natural Family Planning” is an umbrella term which encompasses natural forms of fertility management based on scientific research about women’s fertility cycles. This includes the Basal Body Temperature, Ovulation, and Sympto-Thermal Methods, as well as the more technologically advanced Lady-Comp personal fertility computer. Unfortunately, there are many pervasive myths about natural family planning that prevent some couples from trying it. We will dispel some of those myths below. Continue reading
“Natural family planning” is a form of fertility management where a woman uses the signs her body naturally gives her to determine the point in her menstrual cycle when she is most fertile. For many women, this system is preferable to the uncomfortable and unhealthy side effects that can accompany the use of hormonal birth control methods. If you are a man with a partner who has chosen a natural family planning method of birth control, it is important for you to know that you have a part to play in supporting her with her choice. Below are some ways in which you can work with your partner to achieve your fertility goals. Continue reading
As a woman ages, her fertility slowly decreases. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that around age 32, fertility significantly declines, and the decline becomes rapid around age 37. Despite this, there is no question that women are continuing to have children later in life. A 2014 report from the Center for Disease Control states that the average age of women experiencing their first birth has continued to rise over the last four decades. More significantly, since the year 2000, 46 states and the District of Columbia have experienced a rise in the first-birth rate for women 35 and over.
So if your fertility decreases with age, how are more women than ever giving birth in their late 30’s and early 40’s? The answer truly lies with personal choices and modern medicine. For example, we now know more than ever before about things women can do to keep their body healthy in order to decrease the chances of having a medical disorder which decreases fertility. We also have modern technology, such as egg freezing, which allows for the possibility of having a child later in life. Not to mention that age does not preclude women from pursuing in vitro fertilization or other assisted reproductive technologies. Additionally, the CDC report shows that older women having children generally are more educated and have the financial resources to pursue these options.
In a recent Time Magazine article, Dr. Rebecca Starck, the chair of the department of regional obstetrics and gynecology at Cleveland Clinic, asserts that for women who want to have children later in life, taking care of themselves is the key. She believes a healthy 40 year old can have a less risky pregnancy than a 28 year old if the 40 year old prepares herself for pregnancy through healthy food and exercise, and maintains those habits throughout.
If you have recently given birth, sex may be the last thing on your mind, but birth control actually should be. A female who chooses not to breastfeed will ovulate for the first time between 25 and 72 days after giving birth, making it difficult for you to guesstimate. Additionally, despite popular belief, breastfeeding your child is not an automatic protection against pregnancy. You must breastfeed at least every four hours during the day, every 6 hours at night, be providing 90 to 95% of your baby’s food through breast milk, and breastfeed for more than six months before you can remotely rely on breastfeeding as birth control. Otherwise, your chances of pregnancy are reduced, but not eliminated.
After you have just had a baby, hormonal birth control may not be your best option. Breastfeeding women will want to avoid it because the hormones can actually be secreted into the breast milk. The hormone estrogen, which is found in many brands of birth control pills, is known to impact both the quantity of breast milk produced, and the quality of the milk. Estrogen actually decreases the protein, nitrogen, and lactose content of the breast milk, making is less healthy and satisfying for the baby. Additionally, those not breastfeeding must wait until four weeks after delivery to use any form of birth control containing estrogen, because the hormone increases risk of blood clots in early postpartum weeks.
Out of concern for your health as well as your baby’s health, you may choose to use barrier methods of birth control. These include condoms, the diaphragm, or the cervical cap. (Please note that if you were using a diaphragm prior to giving birth, you should have it resized postpartum, as childbirth impacts the size and shape of your vagina.) Another option is Lady-Comp, an intelligent fertility monitor that will predict your fertile days with 99.3% accuracy based on the information you provide it.
If you are preparing for pregnancy, it is relatively easy to find information on taking care of your physical health in preparation. If you are eating right, exercising regularly, taking prenatal vitamins, and have cut out alcohol, cigarettes, and caffeine, it’s likely you think you are all set to start trying. While your health is greatly important, there are other significant emotional and financial items to consider before you have a baby.
First, it is important to sit down with your partner to discuss some key issues regarding how you will raise your child. These include:
- Religious observances
- Public education vs. private schools vs. homeschooling
- Parents working vs. staying home and childcare issues related to those decisions
- Comfort level with hiring babysitters
- Your thoughts regarding the possibility of your child having special needs
Next, it is important to discuss finances. Consider starting a slush fund right now that will help you pay for maternity clothes, doctor co-pays, nursery furniture, and other expenses you will have as you prepare for your newborn. Now is also a good time to discuss college funds, taking out life insurance policies, and creating wills if you have not done so already.
Finally, have a plan for tackling stress. Stress can unfortunately arise when couples feel it is taking too long to conceive. It can also happen during pregnancy, when hormones are playing with your emotions. Also, the closer you get to your due date, the more anxious you may find yourself regarding last minute preparations. Take the time now to think about your favorite stress reliever. It may be going to a yoga class, practicing deep breathing techniques, or simply sitting down with a cup of hot tea and a magazine. No matter your method, remember to use it consistently when you need it.
According to Prevention Magazine, regardless of if they have children or not, women tend to get less sleep than men overall, due to fluctuating estrogen. During both menstruation and menopause, levels of estrogen, which helps promote sleep, are lower in the body. Furthermore, symptoms associated with lowered estrogen, including headaches, cramps, and hot flashes, all do their part to interrupt a good night’s sleep. Prevention offers several suggestions for combatting this issue.
- While it may sound simple, researchers say the most important thing you can do to improve your sleep is to go to bed and wake up at the same times every day, including weekends. This puts your body’s internal clock on a routine, which will result in better rest. If you are having a difficult time accomplishing this, try keeping a sleep diary in which you record these times to hold yourself accountable.
- Quitting smoking can dramatically improve how well you are sleeping at night. Researchers say smokers are 4 times more likely to not feel rested after a night’s sleep than non-smokers. This is likely due to the amount of the stimulant nicotine in their bodies.
- Keep in mind that when you exercise, your body temperature will stay elevated for approximately 4 hours. Since this is not conducive to sleep, you should plan your gym visits accordingly.
- Pay attention to the beverages you drink. First, caffeinated beverages are a stimulant and can keep you awake at night, so they should be avoided after 2 p.m. each day. Next, because your body actually wakes up as it finishes metabolizing alcohol, you should stop drinking alcoholic beverages at least two hours before your bedtime. Instead, pour yourself a glass of warm milk, as research has shown it can aid in inducing sleep.
If you do wake up in the middle of the night, doctors recommend that as long as you are comfortable, you should stay in bed and perform deep breathing exercises to help you relax and fall back to sleep.
Time is a commodity we never seem to have enough of. Taking care of your children, holding down a job, and juggling chores and social obligations are enough to keep you so busy that you forget to spend alone time with your significant other. While taking time out for your partner can sometimes feel like just one more thing you need to do, it is important to realize the value of this time in nurturing your relationship and keeping it strong. The relaxing and fun moments you have with your partner are critical to surviving the occasional bumps in the road you experience as a couple. Below are some suggestions for ways to take time out for your significant other.
- Create an Intimate Night in– With some planning, you can create a night in as enjoyable as one you could have out on the town. Once you have put the kids to bed early, change into your best outfit and open a bottle of wine. Then, make your partner’s favorite meal (or order in) and dine by candlelight to set a romantic mood. Afterward, you can watch a movie both of you have been wanting to see while cuddling on the couch.
- Work Out Together– Working out always seems to go more quickly when you have someone with you, and what better person than your partner? Many gyms offer childcare services, which will give you both time to play racquetball, run on the treadmill, or lift weights. As a bonus, breaking a sweat together just may put your mind on bedroom activities for later on in the day.
- Take a Vacation– There is no better way to spend quality time with someone than when you are away from the rush of your everyday lives. Family vacations that offer some options for child care, such as cruises and ski resorts, are highly recommended for some additional alone time.
Traditionally, the season of spring marks a time of renewal, making it excellent for taking care of those pesky household chores left dormant in the winter. If you have found yourself procrastinating on getting your spring cleaning done, now is a great time to move forward with it. Don’t let your spring cleaning carry over to the summer! The following tips will help you get started.
The first thing you should do is stock up on cleaning supplies. This will prevent you from having to stop in the middle of cleaning to run to the store for an item, only to lose your momentum when you return. Good items to have on hand are rubber gloves, a large bucket, a scrub brush, microfiber cleaning cloths, paper towels, a mop, a vacuum cleaner, a broom with dustpan, and cleaning products. If you are interested in creating your own cleaners out of all-natural ingredients, click here for recipes for an all-purpose cleaner, a window cleaner, a floor cleaner, and a mold and mildew cleaner you can create right in your kitchen.
Your next step is to create a plan. This means actually writing down what needs to be done in each room of the house. For example, “Kitchen: Mop floor, wash drapes, dust ceiling fan, clean windows, and clean out the cabinet under the sink.” Once you have a task list, recruit other members of your household for some help with the chores. Providing others in your house with incentives definitely helps. For example, you could offer to treat everyone to a movie when the chores are done, or a gift card for their favorite store. Finally, think about ways you can make cleaning fun for everyone. This could be as simple as playing some upbeat music or creating a contest to see who can complete their chores the fastest.
As a mom on the go, you may feel like there is just not enough time in the day to get everything done. Are you so tired from housework, running your kids to various practices, and social obligations that you aren’t taking any time out to take care of yourself? If that is the case, read on for some tips for saving time in your day.
- Put down your phone. Between social media pages and online games, a quick glance at your phone can easily turn into an hour frittered away. One way to minimize phone distraction is to turn off all of the alerts in your applications. This way, your phone won’t buzz every time one of your friends posts a Tweet. You can also consider using a tool such as HootSuite, which will consolidate all of your social media postings in one place for quick, easy catch-up. Finally, set aside a specific, limited, designated time each day to spend on social media or gaming.
- Consider efficiency. Are you being as efficient as possible when running errands? If you find yourself running to the grocery store several times each week, the answer is likely no. Try planning your meals for the entire week out in advance, making a grocery list, and shopping for everything at once. Not only will you save time on trips to the store, but you will no longer have to think about what to make for dinner each day during the week. Another alternative for saving time is ordering groceries online. Many supermarkets are now delivering food right to your doorstep and/or doing the shopping for you so you can just pay, put the groceries in your car, and go.
- Examine your organization. If you often find yourself searching for missing items, you are wasting valuable time in your day. Think about things that are frequently misplaced, such as keys, eyeglasses, or shoes, and set up designated spots to place them in daily, so you will always know where they are.
In March 2013, President Barak Obama signed the Violence Against Women Act into law. This law provided 1.6 billion dollars toward investigating and prosecuting violent crimes against women. Unfortunately, domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women between the ages of 15 and 44 in the United States, and it is estimated that one in every four women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime. As a woman, it is very important to know the signs that your relationship could potentially be abusive, as not every instance of abuse is as obvious as being physically struck. You should be thinking twice about your relationship if any of the following are true.
- Your partner is overly jealous, accusing you of flirting with every man that crosses your path.
- He calls or texts you to the point where you feel he is tracking your every move, or worse, he is stalking you by checking in on you constantly at work, insisting on reading the text messages on your phone, or placing a GPS tracking system in your car.
- He actively discourages you from seeing your friends and family, and from pursuing hobbies and activities you enjoy, and insists you spend all of your time with him instead.
- You feel as if you cannot make a decision without his approval, or cannot go anywhere without him being present.
- You find yourself feeling anxious before you see him because you can never be sure what he might be angry with you about.
- After you fight, he tries to win you back in an over-the-top fashion, such as multiple passionate emails of apology and extravagant gifts.
- He is prone to getting into fist fights with little provocation, or you have ever seen him be cruel to children or animals.
- You discover he had a violent relationship with a previous girlfriend.
If you or someone you love is the victim of domestic violence, please reach out for help by calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline, which is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-799-7233.