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What Breastfeeding Moms Should Know Before Smoking Pot

Many states have legalized marijuana and its use among pregnant women is making headlines. What happens when those pregnant women give birth and decide to breastfeed? Women who use marijuana (the leaves and flowers of the cannabis plant) to alleviate pregnancy-induced nausea or the frequent vomiting associated with hyperemesis gravidarum – HG – may stop using it once their babies are born and symptoms subside. On the other hand, women who find it helps with anxiety or use it medicinally for pain relief find themselves in a tough spot.

At this time marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, in the same category as heroin. In Colorado, where marijuana is legal both medicinally and recreationally, a fact sheet for healthcare providers urges them to advise breastfeeding women to abstain from using marijuana based on recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

With little peer-reviewed research on the topic and plenty of stigma around it, many women are hesitant to discuss it with their healthcare providers. A Massachusetts mom I spoke with, who requested anonymity, says she used marijuana about once a month prior to becoming pregnant. Though she seldom smokes while breastfeeding, she would never tell her doctor about her marijuana use, explaining, “I think he would be judgmental about my choice.”

Lea Grover is one mom who speaks openly about marijuana. She calls it her “anti-anxiety drug of choice,” stating that she prefers it to Xanax because it lacks the side effects. Blogger Jeanna Hoch takes it a step further, admitting she uses cannabis daily and did so during her pregnancies and while breastfeeding. She proudly reports her older child suffered no apparent adverse effects; in fact, he was placed in the Highly Gifted and Talented program in first grade.

I interviewed Mary Lynn Mathre, RN, MSN, CARN, founding member and past president of the American Cannabis Nurses Association and president and co-founder of Patients Out of Time. According to Mathre,“it’s safe for breastfeeding moms to use cannabis under most circumstances, but especially if the mother has health problems and needs cannabis for symptom relief.” Mathre advises breastfeeding moms to choose a strain with a lower concentration of THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant. THC concentration can vary widely.  ranging from less than 0.2% to over 20%.

According to Lauren Katz, a sales representative for a Colorado-based cannabis company, dispensaries are required by law to label each product’s THC content. She advises talking to your budtender to determine the right amount for you. Meanwhile, if marijuana is not legal in your state, it’s challenging to determine the concentration of THC. Additionally, there’s the risk that marijuana purchased illegally is laced with other illicit drugs.

Although the research on the effects of THC on infants is very limited, it is known that THC has a long half-life. It is stored in the mother’s fat tissues for weeks, or even months and the urine of infants exposed via breast milk may test positive for marijuana for up to three weeks.

Though limited, some data suggest that exposure to marijuana via breast milk poses no risks for babies. Tests performed on infants up to one-year-old in a 1990 study from Neurotoxicology and Teratology reported no adverse effects on the development of infants who were exposed to marijuana via breast milk at three months old.

A 1985 study published in the NIDA Research Monographs found no significant differences between the age at which infants weaned of mothers who used marijuana while breastfeeding versus those who didn’t. This suggests marijuana didn’t affect the mothers’ milk supply. Additionally, comparisons of measures on infants’ growth, cognitive, and motor skills revealed no differences between infants’ whose mothers reported daily marijuana use versus those who abstained.

A 2001 study in Archives on Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine found no association between maternal marijuana use and SIDS.

In light of the scant research, the medical establishment advises women to abstain from marijuana while breastfeeding. Groups including La Leche League,  AAP,  and the  American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists agree that no amount of marijuana exposure is safe for infants. While much remains unknown, we know that both secondhand smoke and a mother’s impaired ability to care for her baby while high, are contraindications for using marijuana while breastfeeding.

Some studies support recommendations that breastfeeding women abstain from using marijuana.

A 2013 review in Obstetric Gynecological Survey states that the current evidence suggests mild effects of heavy marijuana use by lactating mothers on their children’s development and that “these effects are not sufficient to warrant concerns above those associated with tobacco use.”

The same 1990 study that identified no adverse developmental outcomes for infants exposed to marijuana via breast milk at three months of age, found that infants exposed to marijuana via breast milk in their first month of life demonstrated decreased motor development at 12 months.

According to a University of California San Diego Medical Center paper, marijuana increases carboxyhemoglobin levels, limiting the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity.

While the risks of marijuana exposure to babies via breast milk are not totally clear, breast milk is known to be beneficial for babies. This is why some healthcare providers discourage women from using marijuana while breastfeeding but don’t necessarily tell women to stop breastfeeding if they can’t abstain.

A 2015 University of California San Diego Medical Center paper strongly recommends breastfeeding women not use marijuana or expose their babies to secondhand smoke. In that same paper, the authors acknowledge the protective effect of breast milk and recommend that if a mom doesn’t stop using marijuana, that she continue to breastfeed, and that she make sure someone else is available to take care of her baby while she’s intoxicated.

Similarly, a 2015 survey of lactation professionals found 44% of respondents made recommendations on breastfeeding and marijuana on a case-by-case basis, depending on the severity of use. Meanwhile, 41% reported recommending breastfeeding even if the mother continues to use marijuana, as the benefits outweigh the risks. Only 15% said they’d recommend a woman cease breastfeeding if she could not stop using marijuana.

To confuse matters further, guidelines published in Breastfeeding Medicine state, “abstaining from any marijuana use is warranted,” and also that,  “although the data are not strong enough to recommend not breastfeeding with any marijuana use, we urge caution.”

The only thing we know for sure is there is a dearth of evidence. But if the trend toward legalization continues, moms and health professionals may just start demanding answers.

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For the first couple years of a child's life, their feet grow so rapidly that they typically need a new shoe size every two to three months (so, no, you're not imagining how many shoes you've been buying lately!).

Fortunately, things tend to slow down as they start walking and hit school age. Even so, it's important to make sure they're wearing the right size for maximum comfort and healthy development.

That's why we teamed up with the experts at Rack Room Shoes for tips on helping the whole family get back to school on the right foot.

1. Get professionally fitted at least once a year.

We love online shopping as much as anyone, but for the health of your child's feet, it's worth it to make at least an annual trip to a store to get them properly sized on a Brannock Device (yep, those old-school sizers you remember as a kid are still the most reliable indicators of foot length and width!). Back to school is a great time to plan a visit to a store with trained associates who can help ensure your little one is getting the right fit.

2. Remember not all feet (or shoes) are created equally.

Most babies have naturally pudgier feet that thin out as they get older, and many kids need a wider or narrower shoe than their peers. Visiting a store and speaking with a trained associate can help you gauge which shoe brand will best suit your child. Once you have that benchmark, shopping online will be easier.

3. Get good closure.

Shoe closure, that is. Nowadays, there's a variety of ways to fasten kids shoes, from slip-ons to velcro to elastic laces. Provide your child with a few options to find the closure that works best for you both.

4. Watch for tell-tale signs your child has outgrown their shoes.

Children will often be the last ones to tell you their favorite shoes are uncomfortable. If your child is tripping or walking funny, it may be time to size up.

5. Try the push-down toe method.

Think your kid has outgrown their kicks? Push down on the toe of their shoe with your thumb to see how much wiggle room they have. The ideal size is to have about half a thumb's width between the tip of the toe and the end of the shoe. (That space equates to about half a size.)

6. Pick a style they'll want to put on. (Here are some of our favorites!)

Most moms know the struggle of getting kids out the door in the morning—the right pair of shoes can help cut down on the (literal) foot-dragging. Opt for a fun style (consider shopping for their favorite color or a light-up design) that they'll be begging to wear every day. (But feel free to buy a second pair that's more your style too!)

You'll love that they're classic converse. They'll love the peek of pink.

Converse Girls Maddie, $44


7. Don't forget the sneakers.

Whether they're running through the recess or racing in P.E., school-age children need a pair of well-fitting, durable sneakers. Be sure to get them professionally fitted to ensure nothing slows them down on the playground.

8. Understand the size breakdowns.

Expert retailers like Rack Room Shoes break up sizing by Baby, Toddler, Little Kid, and Big Kid to make it easier to find the right section for your child. For boys, there's no size break between kids shoes and men's shoes. Girls, though, can cross over into women's shoes from size 4 (in girls) on—a girl's size 4 is a women's size 5.5 or 6.

Looking for more advice? Step into a Rack Room Shoes store near you or shop online. With a "Buy One, Get One 50% off" policy, you can make sure the whole family will put their best foot forward this back-to-school season. (We had to!)

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

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I can vividly remember the last time I remember feeling truly rested. I was on vacation with my family, and my dad and I had started a tradition of going to sleep at 10 p.m., then waking up at 10 a.m. to go for a run. After five days of twelve hours of sleep a night, I remember actually pausing and thinking, "I am truly not at all tired right now!"

That was probably 15 years ago.

Of course, being tired pre-kids and being tired post-kids are two entirely different beasts. Pre-kids, tiredness was almost a badge of pride. It meant you had stayed up late dancing with friends or at a concert with your boyfriend. It meant you had woken up early to hit a spin class before gliding into work, hair still damp from your shower, for a morning meeting. Being tired meant you were generally killing it at life—and I was still young enough that, with a little concealer, I could look like it.

Tired post-kids is a whole other animal.

Tired post-kids means you probably still went to bed at a reasonable hour, but you're still exhausted. Maybe you even slept in past sunrise... but you're still exhausted. You may not have worked out in weeks... but you're still exhausted. And staying out late dancing with your girlfriends? (I mean... is that real life? Was it ever?) Nope, didn't do that. But—you guessed it!—you're still exhausted.

Sometimes I look at my husband and say, "I think if I could sleep for about five days, then I would feel rested again."

But considering the average new mom loses almost two months of sleep in her child's first year of life, even that is probably a low estimate of what I really need.

Because being a mom is exhausting.

It's exhausting always putting someone else's needs above your own. I often find myself actually giving my daughter the food off my plate (because, when you're two, mom's meal must be better even if you're eating the exact same thing).

Or I'll sacrifice sneaking my own nap to lie uncomfortably with her on the couch because it means she sleeps an extra 30 minutes.

Or I'll carry her up and down flights of stairs she is perfectly capable of scaling on her own because, well, she's tired or it's just quicker than nagging her to hurry up all the time.

I often end the day bone-tired, shocked at the physical exertion of just keeping this little person alive.

It's exhausting remembering all the things. The mental load of motherhood is so real, and sometimes I'm not sure it won't crush me.

I schedule and remember the doctor appointments, keep the fridge stocked and plan the meals, notice when my husband is low on white shirts and wash and fold the laundry, add the playdates and the date nights to the calendar, and add any assortment of to-dos to my day because, well, I'm the parent at home, so I must have time, right?

And when I drop one of the thousand balls I'm juggling, I writhe under the guilt of failing at my responsibility.

It's exhausting not getting enough sleep. The sleep gap doesn't end after baby's first year.

Studies have shown that parents lose as much as six months of sleep in their child's first two years of life. That sounds unbelievable at first...but I completely believe it.

Because sometimes I stay up later than I should just to get a few minutes of "me" time. Because sometimes my sleep-trained daughter still wakes up in the middle of the night with a nightmare or because she's sick or for no real reason at all and needs me to soothe her back to sleep.

Because sometimes I'm so busy trying to keep it all together mentally that I don't know how to turn my own brain off to get to sleep. And because sometimes (almost always) my daughter wakes up earlier than I would like her to and the day starts over before I'm ready.

It's exhausting maintaining any other relationship while being a mom. I try not to neglect my marriage. I try not to neglect my friendships. I try to make time for friendly interaction with my coworkers. I try to be there for my congregation. I try to keep all these connections alive and nurtured, but the fact is that some days my nurture is completely used up.

It's exhausting doing all of the above while being pregnant. Okay, this one might not resonate for every mom, but we all know being pregnant is hard. Being pregnant with a toddler? I'm shocked it's not yet an Olympic event. (I'm not sure if we'd all get gold medals or just all fall asleep at the starting gun.)

Most days, I'm so tired and busy I honestly forget that I am pregnant, only to be reminded at the end of the day when I finally collapse on the couch and the little one in my uterus wakes up to remind me. My body is doing amazing things, sure—and I have the exhaustion to show for it.

Of course, I know that this is just an exhausting season of life. One day, one not-so-far-off day, my children will be a bit more grown and be able to get their own breakfast in the morning. One day, they'll actually want to sleep in, and I'll be the one opening their curtains in the morning to start the day (maybe before they're really ready).

One day, they'll always walk up and down the stairs themselves and will stop stealing my food and I'll be able to nap without making sure they are asleep or with a sitter. One day, they won't need me to remember all the things.

And the really wild part? Just thinking about that day makes me miss these days, just a bit.

So, yes, I'm tired. I'm always tired. But I'm grateful too. Grateful I get to have these days. Grateful I get to have this life.

But also really grateful for those days I get to nap, too.

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Who knew Amazon had so many dreamy nursery must-haves? Maybe you have a friend or family member about to have a baby or you're preparing for your new bundle of joy—either way, you can save tons on grabbing some essentials on Prime Day.

We've rounded up our favorite nursery items from basics, like cribs and changing tables, to the essentials you never knew you needed (hint: lots of storage!).

1. 6-drawer dresser

This gorgeous dresser has plenty of space for baby's clothing and accessories—and will transition seamlessly to a big kid room one day. Even better? The top is large enough to be used as a changing table. The shade of white is great for any gender, too!

Dresser, Amazon, $239.99 ($329.99)


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