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How to Cope with Zika Stress

Why Zika can be dangerous even if you aren’t at risk.

How to Cope with Zika Stress

Up until a year or two ago, the Zika virus popped up in small, distant pockets of the world (like Uganda and Yap). Then in 2015, doctors in Brazil began to observe a dramatic uptick in cases of microcephaly in newborns. Careful research over the past year uncovered a causal link between maternal Zika infection during pregnancy and harmful effects to the fetus — ranging from microcephaly to other life-long nervous system and physical effects. So naturally, women who are trying to conceive or who are pregnant worry about their health and the wellbeing of their unborn children. But stressing about Zika won’t prevent it, and it may actually cause harm to your baby.

So to help moms-to-be relax and enjoy their pregnancy, here are 5 ways to cope with Zika stress.

1. Educate yourself, the right way. The Internet is a morass of information. One of the keys to managing Zika anxiety is figuring out which sites are based on current facts and scientific knowledge. The ones that spout half-truths and urban myths? Ignore them. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) and World Health Organization (WHO) post the most up-to-date information based on expert opinion and assessment of the current surveillance trends of Zika. It’s a great site to turn to for both laypeople and healthcare providers if you need advice on Zika prevention, testing and risks.

2. Talk with your healthcare provider. Who can forget the New York Times cover photo of the Brazilian infant with microcephaly featured in one of the earlier mainstream articles spotlighting the link between Zika and effects on pregnancy? Since Zika causes devastating birth defects when exposed in utero, doctors and nurses involved in women’s health are constantly trying to educate themselves about it. Ask your healthcare provider for tips on Zika prevention and testing guidelines. Understand, though, that we are all in the process of learning more about this virus as the months pass. As stated above, Zika is a pretty recent phenomenon, so for most health care providers, it’s been a pretty rapid fire learning process about the virus over the past six months.

3. Minimize your exposure to Zika. If you don’t live in an area where the virus is locally spread, avoid traveling to areas where it’s active. For an updated world map of Zika transmission, check the CDC’s website. If you have to travel to Zika-prone areas, follow the CDC guidelines to avoid transmitting the virus once your return from your trip. Do not have unprotected sex and don’t try to conceive for at least 8 weeks after your trip. Men should wait a full 6 months after possible Zika exposure. If you show symptoms of infection (rash, pink eye, muscle aches, low grade fever) within a month of their return or have been diagnosed with Zika (through approved blood tests), follow the same guidelines. If you are actively trying to conceive, it’s a good idea to have your male partner freeze some sperm prior to traveling to a Zika-active region. This way, you won’t have to wait a full 6 months to try and conceive.

For those living in regions where Zika is active, be practical: wear long sleeves and pants; use mosquito repellent; avoid areas that are close to stagnant water (where mosquitoes like to congregate); and if closed windows and A/C are not an option, sleep under mosquito nets and close the screens on your windows and doors.

4. Share your anxiety with your friends and partner. If you get palpitations just thinking about Zika, chances are your friends or partner are, too. Verbalizing your thoughts and getting a reality check with those close to you can help diffuse the tension. So make sure keep the communication open. Compartmentalize the anxiety by devoting just 30 minutes a day (not more) to troll the Internet for Zika information or to hash out the latest Zika news with your friends. Then pack your thoughts and the information away (until the next day).

5. Take a deep breath. Zika can lead to heartbreaking pregnancy effects, but remember that it’s only one small factor affecting pregnancy.There are so many things women have control over before and during pregnancy that have real, positive impact. Folic acid supplementation (400mcg to 1mg a day) dramatically decreases the risk of certain brain and spinal cord defects in fetuses. If you stop smoking and drinking alcohol during pregnancy, you improve your chances of having a healthier pregnancy. Cytomegalovirus (CMV) is one of the most common causes of microcephaly -- far more frequent than Zika -- and is spread through close contact with young children. So practice good hand hygiene (liberal use of Purell and hand-washing) to avoid getting sick. But most importantly, breathe and enjoy this beautiful miracle of yours: you are making life, after all!

While these steps won’t prevent Zika infection, they are among the most important measures women can adopt to try and ensure a healthy pregnancy. They will also help them relax during their pregnancy, which is crucial to the wellbeing and health of their little bundles.

Photography by Jonica Moore for Well Rounded NY.

This is my one trick to get baby to sleep (and it always works!)

There's a reason why every mom tells you to buy a sound machine.

So in my defense, I grew up in Florida. As a child of the sunshine state, I knew I had to check for gators before sitting on the toilet, that cockroaches didn't just scurry, they actually flew, and at that point, the most popular and only sound machine I had ever heard of was the Miami Sound Machine.

I was raised on the notion that the rhythm was going to get me, not lull me into a peaceful slumber. Who knew?!

Well evidently science and, probably, Gloria Estefan knew, but I digress.

When my son was born, I just assumed the kid would know how to sleep. When I'm tired that's what I do, so why wouldn't this smaller more easily exhausted version of me not work the same way? Well, the simple and cinematic answer is, he is not in Kansas anymore.

Being in utero is like being in a warm, soothing and squishy spa. It's cozy, it's secure, it comes with its own soundtrack. Then one day the spa is gone. The space is bigger, brighter and the constant stream of music has come to an abrupt end. Your baby just needs a little time to acclimate and a little assist from continuous sound support.

My son, like most babies, was a restless and active sleeper. It didn't take much to jolt him from a sound sleep to crying like a banshee. I once microwaved a piece of pizza, and you would have thought I let 50 Rockettes into his room to perform a kick line.

I was literally walking on eggshells, tiptoeing around the house, watching the television with the closed caption on.

Like adults, babies have an internal clock. Unlike adults, babies haven't harnessed the ability to hit the snooze button on that internal clock. Lucky for babies they have a great Mama to hit the snooze button for them.

Enter the beloved by all—sound machines.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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What went viral this week: Pregnant Disney Princesses + an airline nightmare

Now, more than ever, we need to hear those good news stories.

Last week was a week.

We lost a legal and cultural icon with the passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg and deadly wildfires continue to blaze on the West Coast. Now, more than ever, we need to see creativity, kindness and compassion in our world—we need to hear those "good news" stories, but we also need to see the headlines that show us how and why the world needs to change .

And right now both kinds of stories are going viral.

Here are the viral stories you need to read right now:

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