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It is important to have a healthy body and mind ready for conception. This means reducing toxins and bad habits from your lifestyle. This not only goes for the female but also the male. A man's sperm take months to develop before ejaculation and therefore a toxin free lifestyle is important too.

Most doctors believe in a holistic approach to maximizing a TTC couple's likelihood of conceiving a baby naturally, below are a number of simple steps both partners can take to assist the path to getting pregnant. These steps have been developed taking into consideration generally accepted health professional advice as well as recognized health research.

1. Smoking

According to the Health Insite, (Australian Government initiative) smoking is an important risk factor for the three diseases that cause most deaths in Australia: heart disease, stroke and lung cancer. Smoking has also been linked to cancers of the mouth, bladder, kidney, stomach and cervix, among others. Smokers are also at increased risk of having reduced lung function from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Using tobacco has been linked to a variety of other conditions, such as diabetes, peptic ulcers, some vision problems, and back pain. Smoking in pregnancy can lead to miscarriage, stillbirth or premature birth. Smoking can negatively affect sperm and your fertility.

2. Stress Management

Trying to conceive can be a stressful time in a couple's relationship. Stress negatively affects fertility in many ways. Look for ways to reduce stress in your life. Perhaps try yoga, mediation, swimming; look for something you will enjoy and that you feel is relaxing. Most importantly, fun and laughter will help with a happy mental state. Try and create a fun environment for sex, enjoy love making rather than focusing on it as a task.

3. Weight Management

It is important throughout all times in our life to maintain a healthy weight range. So of course being a healthy weight around the time of conception is an important step. Both being underweight and overweight can reduce fertility. Look at a balanced diet with lots of grains, fruit, vegetables and small amounts of organic meat and fish; perhaps seek a dietitian or nutritionist advice. Regular exercise combined with a healthy diet should help to create healthy body and mind.

4. Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol can affect fertility. The Australian National Research advises against drinking alcohol before and during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol can increase the risk of miscarriage and abnormalities in the baby. Alcohol can also affect healthy sperm so it is advisable for men to reduce their alcohol consumption.

5. Medication/Drugs

It is best to discuss with your GP or specialist about any medications you are taking that may affect fertility. It is also important to review any over the counter medications you and your partner are taking as they may also affect fertility and sperm count.

6. Other Toxins

Your home or workplace may be potential sites for toxins that may be damaging to fertility and pregnancy. Seek the advise of a healthcare practitioner to identify and sources and provide treatment for the elimination of substances.Workplace and home environment substances could include: pesticides e.g. DDT, dibromochloropropane, chlordecone, ethylenedibromide, chlorpyrifos (Dursban) herbicides e.g. Dioxin fungicides hydrocarbons e.g. vehicle emissions, benzopyrene, PCB chemical solvents e.g. xylene, acetone, trichlorethylene, petroleum distillates, paint thinners and strippers, glycol ethers found in paint, solder vapors toxic smoke from burning synthetic and plastic based compounds textile dyes dry cleaning chemicals lead, mercury, cadmium gasoline, oil-based paints, cleaning solvents, adhesives exposure to radiation can be toxic to a pregnancy.

7. Foods To Avoid When Trying to Conceive

Peas: A chemical in peas have anti-fertility effects for both men and women. Scientists discovered that the birth rate in Tibet was considerably lower than other parts of the world. The cause was found to be peas, a staple food for the population. In clinical trails performed in the USA women were given the chemical (in capsule form) found in peas and pregnancies dropped by 60%. In men sperm rates were slashed by 50% too.

Soy Products: Soy foods contain a natural source of estrogen which can be beneficial but if you are trying to get pregnant any excess in estrogen can cause hormonal imbalances. The result is often interference with ovulation and egg production. It is therefore wise to avoid all forms of soy foods when you are trying to get pregnant.

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What are the best ways to get pregnant? Perhaps you've been asking this question for months or years. If so, then it's crucial to know the best methods for becoming pregnant. This will help to maximize your chance of achieving success. Some methods work more effectively than others, and here are some of the best ones:

1. Exercise (at the right time).

We all know that exercise is healthy. But it can also help you to become pregnant when you do it at the right time! The key is to know when you should start exercising, in order to boost your chance of becoming pregnant.

2. Consider acupuncture.

When most of us think of acupuncture as just "sticking needles into the body," it can be effective in cleansing your body-and thus preparing it for conception. And if you're not too keen on acupuncture, you could choose acupressure as an alternative. A massage can provide many of the same benefits as acupuncture-and ultimately be one of the best ways to get pregnant.

3. Balance your hormones.

This is one of the most crucial steps to take, in order not only to become pregnant, but also to ensure that your baby will be safe and healthy. Hormones are crucial for assist our bodies' organs to function properly. In fact, you can take natural supplements to maximize the balance of your hormones. This is a safe and natural way to accomplish that mission.

4. Sometimes you shouldn't follow your doctor's orders.

While 99% of the time you should, one of the best ways to get pregnant is to avoid his or her advice if it involves unnatural fertility drugs.

5. Drink plenty of water.

While you should be doing this anyway, it's especially crucial if you want to boost your chance of becoming pregnant. This will help to keep your organs responsible for digestion, clean as a whistle.

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Different people have different aspirations, different dreams, and different plans. However, not all aspirations or dreams can be just a reach away for some, given their financial standing in the society. A good example of this would be pregnancy. Specially in today's time, not all moms-to-be - whether they be single or married, young or at the right age, or even working or not - are financially ready and have the means to meet their dreams or plans before giving birth.

The good news is, with the need for financial aides for such situations, it's no longer much of a sacrifice for mom's-to-be because a lot of financial companies these days have come up with special type of loan intended to help women, especially pregnant women. These types of loans are designed to help them cover not only the cost of hospitalization expenses, but also including the doctors fees during and post hospitalizations, and other bills that are required during and after pregnancy. We all know that a considerable amount of cash is required to meet all these expenses. This is something that not many parents have a savings for, especially for unexpected pregnancies. These offered loans are thus a welcomed change and a great way to help women get the loads of their back for both financial and health reasons. Pregnancy includes a lot of stress and pressure, and added problems will simply not work well with their situations.

Most of these available loans are against collateral security. If you have a property or an own place to stay, you can use it to serve as your collateral to meet any amount of expenses related to your pregnancy. This is surely a great option and problem solver considering the fact that its repayment period is as flexible and can go up to 25 years, especially when it comes to buying stuff that is needed and preferred for your baby. This is something a lot of mothers would really appreciate and consider a great relief.

Not everything goes smoothly during pregnancy, and complications can happen. It is one of those situations where you won't really know what will happen, so it is only practical and essential to prepare. And cash is a very important thing to have during these times, just in case any emergency treatment or procedure is needed. With a convenient secured loan plus and a flexible repayment period, you're not only ensured that funds are ready, but it also ensures you that it will not effect much of your lifestyle or savings negatively.

There are also loans available for pregnant women that are unsecured and don't require any form of collateral security. These loans however, tend to include smaller amounts only. And since the lenders' risk is higher in this type of loans, the interest rates are also higher, and the repayment terms will involve shorter deadlines as compared to secured loans. But considering the idea that no collateral is to be required, this is a great alternative.

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A lot of people are aware that aromatherapy can provide a wide range of benefits that can improve the present health condition of a person. In major places like United States and England for example, they would regard the benefits of aromatherapy as something which is very much related to alternative medicine techniques. While on the other hand, those countries which accept aromatherapy as part of their medical procedure would regulate them the way they would do with their medical practices.

Here are the top 10 benefits that aromatherapy can give, read along and you will be pleased on how much it can help:

Benefit # 1: Aromatherapy Helps The Medical Field

In France, this method is use in order to complement the traditional medical practices which they would normally do to address the need of their body. In this place, essential oils are given by physician in order to target harmful organisms which can lead to viral, bacterial, or fungal infections. On the other hand, in United States they would make use of the scents in order to alleviate symptoms of illnesses. This is why a lot of people are familiar with products like Vicks or Halls cough drops that effectively relieve clogged sinuses as well as throats. Aromatic chemicals compounds like eucalyptus and menthol can lessen symptoms associated to colds.

Benefit # 2: Aromatherapy as Stress Reliever

When one mention aromatherapy, the first thing that will ring in one's ear is that it can relieve everyday stress. Aromatherapy is mostly given in order to lessen symptoms of stress among people. A good example of this is the basil oil which is normally given to calm down the effects of depression.

Benefit # 3: Aromatherapy and Behavior

It has been shown that aromatherapy can improve the condition of the mind hence giving some effect to the behavior of a person. According to study conducted among mice, the animal tend to become calm the moment they were exposed to aroma of sandalwood, lavender, and other oils sprayed on them while they became extremely irritable when exposed to thymol, orange terpines, and other aromas.

Benefit # 4: Aromatherapy Can Improve Sleep

A study shows that elderly people were able to "sleep like babies" the time when they were exposed to lavender aroma. These people are suffering from sleep difficulty disorder and had to consume sleeping pills in order to get to sleep before the use of the scented oil.

Benefit # 5: Aromatherapy Relieves Postpartum Discomfort

A study conducted to 635 women shows that postpartum discomfort can highly lessen during the 3rd or the 5th when a woman would apply lavender oil into their perineal area (between the vagina and the rectum)

Benefit # 6: Aromatherapy Heals Colds

It has been noted that consuming chicken soup when you are suffering from colds can highly improve one's condition. Now, there was a further study that was conducted in order to find out whether the effect of chicken soup is because of the action of the hot steam on the nostrils or if it is the aroma of the chicken soup that can actually cure the colds away. The results indicate that it is because of the steam hence suggesting the effectiveness of aroma.

Benefit # 7: Aromatherapy Improves Male Sexual Response

It has been observed that Circulation to the male sexual organ was substantially improved by means of the treatment of licorice or lavender together with pumpkin pie. Doughnut that contains black licorice is also known to be effective. Men that are known to be sexually active responded greatly to cola, lavender, as well as oriental spice while on the other hand older males would rather go for the fragrance of vanilla. This clearly states that aromatherapy is an efficient therapy to address the problem of male impotency.

Benefit # 8: Aromatherapy makes a Person more Alert

It has been shown that people who were exposed to rosemary were able to have a decrease in frontal alpha and beta power which simply suggest that there is an increased in alertness. Furthermore, they also experienced lower anxiety levels and they can perform math computations faster.

Benefit # 9: Aromatherapy for Pain Management

A lot of people would make use of clove bud which is a very potent essential oil in reducing bodily pain. Be sure to use the oil with care and don't forget to dilute it first if you wish to use it for massage or as a lotion.

Benefit # 10: Aromatherapy Heal Wounds

You can make use of tea tree oil to clean the wound first then apply essential oil helichrysum in areas near the wound but not on the wound itself in order to promote healing faster and safer. Keep in mind that the faster the wound heals the lesser scarring will take place.

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As we mentioned in previous article, premenstrual syndrome effects over 70% to 90% of women before menopause in US and less for women in Southeast Asia because of their diet. Premenstrual syndrome (PMS) occurrence have more than double over past 50 years due to the acceptance of its as medical condition and caused by unhealthy diet with high in saturated food. Premenstrual syndrome is defined as faulty function of ovaries related to women menstrual cycle, it effects the women physical and emotional state and sometimes interference with daily activities as resulting of hormone fluctuation. The syndrome happens in one or two weeks before menstruation and then declining when the period starts. It is said the symptoms can be so severe that between 10-15% of women have to take time off work, costing businesses millions of dollars a year. In this article, we will discuss what exhibits hypothyroidism to causes PMS.

I. Definition
Hypothyroidism is either caused by Hashimoto's thyroiditis as hypothyroidism or by a lack of the thyroid gland or a deficiency of hormones from either the hypothalamus or the pituitary.

II. What exhibit hypothyroidism to cause Premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
1. Diet
Hypothyroidism can be caused by low levels of Iodine in the diet causing high levels of thyroid stimulating hormone resulting in swelling or hyperplasia of the thyroid gland.

2. Sporadic inheritance
Hypothyroidism can pass through from generation to generation caused by genetic defects including recessive, dominant and sporadic inheritance patterns.

3. Postpartum thyroiditis
Postpartum thyroids is a resulted of inflammation of thyroid gland as resulting of fluctuating thyroid function after childbirth for some women. This inflammation may significant damage to the thyroid and hence the hyperthyroid phase will be followed by the development of hypothyroidism.

4. Wolf-Chaikoff effects
Hyperthyroidism also can be caused temporarily intake of high amount of Iodine in treating hyperthyroidism.

6. Chronic lymphocytic thyroiditis
Also known as Hashimoto's thyroiditis, it is caused by malfunction of immune system resulting in the body own T cells attack the thyroid cells or a lack of the thyroid gland or hormones deficiency from either the hypothalamus or the pituitary gland.

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When parents understand that KMC starts from conception it's much more probable that they will continue on after birth. The idea of KMC is about bonding, transitioning both mother and child to the life they have after pregnancy, and about keeping babies healthier. Babies that are held and cared for in this manner tend to develop physically healthier as well as emotionally healthier. There are numerous reasons for this.

KMC techniques provide a sense of stability and security for both the mother and the baby. Each of them has been in a state of togetherness for almost a year, and when it's time for each to start the separation process, it's healthier to allow it to happen gradually over time rather than as a sudden awakening. Babies that are cared for with KMC tend to cry less, grow faster, and end up with a stronger immune system.

If parents understand that KMC start from conception then they have every chance of carrying through after birth. If you think about the mother's natural stance when she is in her third trimester of pregnancy, it is easy to see how the body responds to having a baby nestled along the front of the body. The natural curve of the body allows for easy transitioning to KMC and it becomes easier for mothers to bond while limiting the feeling of being overwhelmed with certain issues like housework or daily duties.

The general state of the mother is often passed on to the infant. Since KMC starts from conception, the mother's sense of loss and separation could very well be transferred onto the baby without the use of this method. The emotional state of the mother can be influenced by how well she connects with her child and how strong the bonding process is. Because bonding actually starts while the baby is in the uterus, the natural extension of the process can be easily handled and seen as a simple step toward natural development. Most parents who see this are able to maintain the KMC technique through its natural course and thus allow for the easy and natural development of the baby to mother bond.

By maintaining the contact, allowing both bodies and minds to adjust, and by minimizing feelings of being overwhelmed fewer mothers who use the KMC method experience post natal depression and are often more energetic as they continue on with their daily lives. They feel better because they are not experiencing trauma. Without the trauma of giving birth it is likely that the transition into motherhood will be a much smoother one.

There are advocates and there are those that feel that even though KMC starts from conception that it isn't necessary to continue on with the practice after the baby has been born. It is essential that the mother has the freedom to experience this technique in her own right in order to ensure that each of the individuals in the situation are experiencing the best possible transition.

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Breastfeeding is the most natural way of nursing an infant. In the early 1900s, the numerous health benefits of human milk were not known; but today we are aware of all its health promoting properties, not just for baby but also for mother.

o Nursing baby requires a lot of energy, especially when baby experiences a growth spurt and demands very frequent feeding. As such, breastfeeding is nature's easiest diet because it uses an extra 500 to 1,000 calories a day. If the mother eats healthily this is the chance to shed those unwanted pounds.

o By feeding baby, the body releases the hormone oxytocin which helps contract the uterus during the first few days after birth. This is extremely helpful as it stops residual bleeding and the uterus regains its former shape much quicker.

o Several studies have shown that breastfeeding is related to developing breast cancer; if a woman has breastfed she is at lower risk for pre-menopausal breast cancer.

o Continuous infant feeding prevents contraception by stopping ovulation. This phenomenon has been called "exogestation" - gestation outside the womb - because the female fertility system is programmed as if it was still pregnant. Baby's suckling sends a message to the body which indicates the baby's developmental stage: the more baby feeds the higher is the contraceptive protection; however, if baby is breastfed less frequently (less than every two hours), contraceptive protection may be much lower.

o The risk of developing ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and hip fractures in later life has also been shown to be significantly lower when breastfeeding.

o Women who have breastfed are less likely to develop heart disease too, as they tend to have higher levels of good cholesterol (HDL) in their blood.

o Mild forms of postnatal depression may be reduced or even prevented because the body's hormones make mothers feel more positive overall.

o Breastfeeding is cheaper: it does not require you to buy a lot of equipment and the savings in formula milk can add up significantly.

Most importantly, nursing mothers all agree that feeding baby is accompanied by an extremely warm, comforting feeling which helps strengthen a deep rooted bond. While baby suckles hormones are released into the mother's body which calm and relax her in order to make it a very positive experience, especially when she feels tired or stressed.

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You are going to have a baby, how exciting! Whether or not this is your first pregnancy, it can be a bit nerve-racking. How can you best prepare for baby's arrival? Are there things that can be done to minimize fears and frustrations of being ready? As a parent you want the best for your child, the following list, though not comprehensive, is a good start when trying to figure out how to get ready for your unique baby girl or boy.

  1. DON'T PANIC: First and foremost, DON'T PANIC! Having a baby can be stressful, but does not need to be such. Whether your pregnancy was planned or not, the best thing you can do for yourself and your baby is to NOT PANIC. After the discovering your pregnancy, you can make the rest of the pregnancy and the beginning stages of parenthood a low-stress and exciting experience. As you learn to control your life, in areas you can control, you will be better able to stay calm and relaxed. The less stressed you are, the better it will be for your baby and your family.

  2. PACK A BAG: Generally this is a well-known to-do item, but it is still worth mentioning. Usually you do not have to stay in a hospital gown after delivering your child. You may find it much more comfortable to be in your own pajamas or other 'comfy' clothes. Make sure you have all the toiletries you would need for an overnight stay (or two) at a hotel. Though the hospital may have what you need, the costs are usually much more than you bringing them on your own.

  3. TRANSPORTATION: Do you want to have your baby borne in a taxi or on a city bus? Probably not. Transporting yourself to the birthing location is one thing to think about. Will your spouse be able to take you? What about a backup plan for transportation in the event your spouse is unavailable? Preparing for the homeward bound trip with your precious newborn is something you need to prepare for.

    Make sure the car seat is not expired (yes car seats have an expiration date). Make sure it is secured properly and that if it has an arm to carry the car seat that the arm is secured properly in the position specified by the manufacturer (most, if not all, car seat carriers should be fully down and below/behind the head of the car seat). If the vehicle roles, a carrier arm could collapse on your child and cause severe damage.

    Many hospitals, birthing centers, and even fire stations offer car-seat inspections and hold training to help teach expectant parents how to properly secure a car seat.

  4. ANIMALS: Do you have animals at home that typically live indoors? The most common are dogs and cats. You may want to consider investigating the breed of animal and how it typically responds to newborn children. Dogs may be aggressive, until they have been taught that even the baby is master of the domain/household. A cat may turn and spray your child if not properly introduced. Our dogs were introduced one at a time to our newborn children. Both dogs wanted to sniff and then lick the heads of the baby. After that, our babies were old news. Your animals are not the same as ours. Plan according to the temperament and breed of your pets.

  5. PEDIATRICIAN: Having a pediatrician already selected will make things much easier for you and your child. After the delivery, your child's pediatrician will visit your newborn a couple times to make sure he/she is in optimum health. Follow-up visits can also be scheduled with your pediatrician's office. Though you do not necessarily need to select a pediatrician (the hospital will usually provide one that is one call for the hospital stay), it will make future visits with a familiar face and practice easier for you and your child. Also, by choosing a pediatrician before your child's birth will ensure a less stressful experience afterwards when your child needs to go to regularly scheduled checkups and for less-common emergency checkups.

  6. CHILDCARE: If you will be going back to work after a maternity break, having pre-selected day-care is another way to reduce the stress of raising a child. Selecting day care earlier will allow you to better screen and interview candidate individuals and/or centers. It will better allow you to do first-hand observations in how the center takes care of newborn infants. You can interact with other parents who leave their children at the same location.

  7. FEEDING OPTIONS: Decide, before-hand, on whether you will be nursing or bottle-feeding your child. Both have their individual benefits. As for nutritional needs, both are similarly comparative, though there are skeptics and many homeopaths that purport nursing is better, it really is more of a personal decision as the nutritional benefits are virtually the same and perhaps even better with formula. There is some belief that the skin-to-skin contact associated with nursing is good stimulation for your child, but skin-on-skin does not needs to be only through nursing. Generally there is cost savings with nursing, and it is easier to carry around as you generally have ample supply wherever you are.

    We used formula for both our children; both are very intelligent and have a wonderful relationship with both daddy and mommy. A benefit to formula is that feeding is not just a motherly task. The father can take the opportunity to bond with the child as he feeds baby. Some of the fondest memories of our children's daddy is of him singing and rocking them to sleep while they feed on formula.

    Again, whether you nurse or bottle feed your child is a completely personal decision and you should not feel bad choosing one over the other. On a similar note, if you choose to nurse, it may not come as easy as you would like. Understand that it will take practice by both mother and baby to master the art of nursing.

  8. BORROW OR BUY: The first year of your baby's life will be expensive. Generally, going from a household of two to a household of three does not just require a lifestyle change, but also a financial lifestyle change and obligation. Speak with friends, relatives, church associates, or community forums to determine what items you should really purchase for the first year of baby's life as opposed to things that could simply be borrowed. For example, a baby stroller, or cradle may be something that could be borrowed. A crib that can convert to a toddler bed or adult bed may be something worth purchasing. Some baby clothes also may be able to be borrowed rather than purchased. Baby will be a shock on the pocketbook, minimizing wherever possible can help.

  9. CLASSES: Many birthing centers and hospitals offer free or low-cost classes to help new-expectant parents learn how to best prepare for your newborn child. Make use of these services. At minimum they can help put your mind at ease in what you can expect and what you can do to do to prepare. They often provide information about birthing options and your right to have a plan followed by nurses, doctors, and/or other medical staff.

  10. MAKE A DECISION LIST: To help you stay calm throughout the pregnancy and afterwards, make a list of the things that can be decided prior to baby's arrival and taking him or her home. Some things to consider when making this list include (not an exhaustive list, just a sample):

    - Will you find out the gender?

    - Name ideas for both genders. Ultra sound gender determination is not 100% accurate. If you would like help finding unique names for girls and boys do a search on Google or other reputable search engine. There are ample websites dedicated to baby names.

    - Birthing location: Birthing center, hospital, home, etc.

    - If a boy, will you want him circumcised?

    - Cloth diapers or disposable diapers (not much cost savings in cloth as a result of how much cloth diapers cost and the associated maintenance of the diapers)

Though the list is not comprehensive, it should give expectant parents ideas how to prepare for the arrival of their newborn baby. Remember the most important thing, DON'T PANIC! Using lists, and being prepared in the things you can prepare will help you overcome many fears and frustrations sometimes associated with first-time pregnancies.

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While pregnancy is an extremely happy time in a woman's life, having to put up with the accompanying skin problems during pregnancy can be somewhat of a drag.

Pregnancy can do some crazy things to your skin, many of them are due to the extreme hormone changes taking place. Some of those things have crazy-sounding nicknames such as pregnancy mask, chloasma, melasma, hyperpigmentation, PUPP, spider veins, stretch marks, linea nigra and skin tags. If you are prone to any particular type of skin condition, pregnancy may intensify their symptoms.

Good news - these problems are rarely serious and usually start to disappear soon after childbirth. Additionally, it is possible to minimize the severity of skin problems during pregnancy with extra care.

Acne. You thought that you were rid of that teenage problem. It is those crazy hormones at work! For some acne can rear its ugly head once again, while for others with existing acne, it can be quite the contrary.

The "pregnancy mask", also referred to as chloasma or melasma, are the brown spots that can show up on the face as a result of the pregnancy hormones (estrogen and progesterone) stimulating the melanin cells, producing more pigment in an erratic fashion (blotches). This can also happen to those taking birth control pills. A way to minimize the severity of the dark patches would be to wear sunscreen, or a moisturizer containing UV protection and limit your time in the sun.

Linea nigra, which means "black line" in Latin, is the dark vertical line that sometimes appears during pregnancy. It is a dark brown line that runs vertically from just below the navel to the pubic area. In some, it may even extend above the navel to the rib cage area. Caused by hormones, it usually appears somewhere around the second trimester and disappears after childbirth.

PUPP, or pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy are small red bumps and hives, sometimes in large patches. The rash usually starts on the stomach area, spreading to the breasts, thighs and buttocks. It is an annoying, but harmless condition that may occur towards the end of pregnancy. Moisturizing creams, or calamine lotion can help to curb the itching. If the condition is severe a doctor prescribed anti-itch medication.

Spider veins are thin radiating blood vessels that have the appearance of just that - spiders. They are not painful and may go away after pregnancy. If not, they are easily removed by a dermatologist.

Most women will develop stretch marks to some extent during pregnancy. Since every person is unique, there is no way to predetermine if someone will have a tendency to develop stretch marks, and if so, to what severity.

Stretch marks happen when there is a sudden weight gain and stretching of the skin. Breasts, buttocks, hips, thighs and stomach are some of the most common areas for stretch marks to appear. Stretch marks are created when the underlying tissue grows faster than the skin layers covering it, causing small tears in the skin's surface. They may appear as streaks of red or purple thinned skin, which fade to white scar-like streaks over time. This scar tissue is what creates stretchmarks.

Since stretch marks are basically scars, you cannot realistically expect to eliminate them completely once they happen. So, efforts to prevent stretch marks from happening then would be essential. Even if they are unavoidable, you can lessen their severity with proper skin care.

If you were using certain products to treat your skin prior to becoming pregnant, you will want to check with your doctor in order to be sure that they are safe to use during pregnancy. You may have to make a few changes in your skin care routine, such as changing the strength of your cleansers (more or less) and the frequency that you moisturize your skin.

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Baby Blues, Postpartum Depression or Postpartum Psychosis?

After my baby was born, whenever I cried or felt sad everyone just kept telling me that I had the baby blues or that it was my hormones still out of sorts. I had insomnia; I couldn't eat; I was anxious and nervous all the time. I suffered panic attacks, I would cry all the time for no reason. Then eventually I thought I was going to lose my mind and hurt my baby. I was living in fear.

Postpartum Depression is so much more than what people think depression is. This illness takes on many different forms and each woman has different thoughts and feelings associated with their postpartum illness. When you talk to women out there on their experience with PPD some just feel a sense of not wanting to be around their baby and not take care of the child. Other women just note that they could not stop crying. Some felt sad, lonely and had mood swings. Others had thoughts of hurting themselves or their baby. We need to be aware that postpartum depression can have one or many symptoms and any one of them cannot be overlooked.

The differences between baby blues, postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.

Most say that the "baby blues" comes a few days after delivery and is a mild form of anxiety and sadness. It will go away on its own within a few weeks with no treatment necessary.
Some symptoms of the baby blues are:
sadness and crying
feeling overwhelmed or anxious
mood swings
lack of energy and fatigue

What is the difference from the baby blues and postpartum depression?
Postpartum depression will not go away by itself. If your baby blues lasts longer than two weeks and you have the the following symptoms (along with the ones listed for the baby blues) you may now have postpartum depression:
Thoughts of hurting the baby
Thoughts of hurting yourself
Not having any interest in the baby
Hard time eating

Postpartum Psychosis:
Seeing things that aren't there
Feeling confused
Having rapid mood swings
Trying to hurt yourself or your baby

Postpartum Depression only occurs in about 10% of women and it is not really talked about that often. It is hard to recognize at first because most people will tell you that the feelings you are experiencing are normal and you just have "the baby blues." If your feelings continue to get worse as time goes on and you are not feeling better, you must seek out medical attention and talk to your doctor. Postpartum depression can get worse if it is not dealt with.

Postpartum Psychosis is rarely talked about because women are ashamed of the feelings that they are experiencing. Postpartum psychosis only occurs in 1-3 of every 1000 mothers. If you think that you are experiencing postpartum psychosis, please seek out medical attention immediately. Some tragic stories of postpartum psychosis end in suicide of the mother and possibly the baby. Women were too ashamed of the overall feelings that they were experiencing and did not want to seek out the help that they needed.

There are so many places to turn to if you are experiencing any irrational thoughts or feelings, please reach out. Of the the best places to start is your doctor. You can also seek out help through Postpartum International or any other health facility in your area. Your doctor can surely guide you in the right direction for medications and therapy. This is an illness that will get better with time. You may need to have a combination of medication and therapy, but do not be ashamed to talk about the feelings that you are experiencing. Once you start talking, people will start listening. You will start feeling better!

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Hyperthyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland overproduces one or both types of thyroid hormones needed to regulate the metabolism and other functions of the body. Those with hyperthyroidism can experience anxiety, weight loss, and a fast heart beat without treatment for the condition.

Common causes of thyroid problems.

There are a number of causes for an overactive thyroid. Some of the most common causes include a toxic goiter on the thyroid, an adenoma, or Graves' disease. Graves' disease in an autoimmune disease that not only affects the function of the thyroid, but also causes trouble sleeping, muscle weakness, and bulging eyes.

Some other conditions are known to cause higher levels of thyroid hormones in the bloodstream, but are usually associated with other conditions such as postpartum thyroiditis, the anti-arrhythmic drug Amiodarone, and an initial symptom of hypothyroidism, a condition caused by an under-active thyroid.

The treatments for your thryoid disorder.

Typical medical care for those with hyperthyroidism is control with the use of drugs such as beta blockers and thyrostatics. If the problem continues to get worse, surgery is also an option.

For those that want a more natural approach to treatment, there are home remedies to reduce or eliminate the symptoms of hyperthyroidism. One of the easiest treatments to use is a range of natural herbs. Black cohosh is an herb typically used to treat infertility and can work well in hyperthyroidism cases where infertility is a problem. Nettles is an herb that can be used as a tea and will treat the symptoms of hyperthyroidism due to a goiter.

Hyperthyroidism can also be controlled with diet and vitamin supplements depending on the level of thyroid hormones in the blood. Natural remedies may not replace the need for medical intervention, but can help reduce the side effects of the disease in severe cases.

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Juggling a newborn, household, career and your own health can seem like a three-ringed circus when you're a modern Mom. Losing the pregnancy weight can seem like the last thing on the list but always the first thing on your mind.

It's so easy to get greasy take out or ready to eat meals instead of cooking something healthy but if you do have to snack try these six power foods.

1. Spinach - Popeye didn't rely on this powerhouse veggie for no reason. Spinach is rich with nutrients like vitamin C and K plus Iron and Folic acid. Spinach does wonders for strengthening your muscles and bones with its Calcium content and its Lutein is said to prevent cancer and eye deterioration. Make spinach tasty by adding it to your omelet with some feta and tomatoes.

2. Almonds - Nothing beats a handful of almonds to help lose the pregnancy weight. They are a good source of a fiber and protein as well as a great place to get your "good" fats. (Almonds fats are monounsaturated and they help lower your cholesterol.) Eating them plain works best but if you want that extra kick toast them a bit and add some sea salt.

3. Blueberries - Boost your immune system the natural way with a bowl of blueberries. Eating these tasty berries is one of the finest ways to get your antioxidants. Blueberries also have a good source of vitamin C and B plus Potassium and Zinc. Add them to cereal in the morning or your protein smoothie in the afternoon.

4. Avocados - Another wonderful antioxidant, avocados will help lose the pregnancy weight fast. The vital vitamin E will help clear up your skin and avocados have more than double the amount of Potassium than bananas do. My favorite way to eat them is mashed up with some lemon juice, tomatoes, onions and spices in a guacamole.

5. Oatmeal - This may look like a heavy breakfast staple but oatmeal can help you trim your tummy faster. Oatmeal, a fantastic source of fiber, also lowers your cholesterol making it invaluable to your diet. If you aren't a fan of eating it cooked in a bowl try baking the oats into healthy cookies or breakfast bars.

6. Peanut Butter - The peanut butter and jelly staple in your childhood might have been the best thing you ate as a kid. Peanut butter is a brilliant source of protein and it's a good way to get your Magnesium, which helps with building bones. I love peanut butter with a banana but its also good with honey on toast.

No matter which of the six snacks you choose to eat, remember that to lose the pregnancy weight effectively you still have to exercise. Incorporate your healthy snacks into a good physical fitness routine and you'll burn the baby fat in no time.

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If you are just now signing up for a new health insurance plan you should sign up to get healthy insurance maternity coverage before you get pregnant. If wait until you are pregnant to get maternity coverage, it may be considered a pre-existing condition. This means that this pregnancy will not be covered.

You may be able to get maternity coverage if you are already pregnant on a group plan that does not have any maternity restrictions on it. However, you will not be covered under an individual health insurance plan or even under an individual family plan if you are pregnant at the time you apply.

If you are of the age that you may need maternity coverage at some point in the future, you are much better off adding the coverage to your plan from the beginning. When you do become pregnant there will be no question about your coverage. Some individual and family plans have a waiting period which you should find out about also. Some plans will require that you have the maternity benefit on the plan for 12 months before it is active.

Be sure to read the guidelines of the plan you are applying for before making a purchase. If this is something that you will likely need in the next few years, be sure you understand completely what will be available to you. You don't want to leave this issue to chance.

You will pay a higher premium for health insurance maternity benefits but it will be worth it. If you have a normal pregnancy, your medical care costs may be between $2000 and $3000. However, if you have complications with your pregnancy your medical costs can reach as high as $100,000 or even more depending on the circumstances. Better to be safe and add health insurance maternity benefits than to go without it.

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In many tropical countries, coconuts have long been lauded as having fertility and pregnancy enhancing properties. In India, for example, a woman hoping to conceive will go to her priest for a special coconut; Thai babies receive, as their first solid food, three spoonfuls of soft coconut meat from their priests; a Balinese woman is forbidden to touch a coconut tree for fear she will drain its fertility into her own; and pregnant women from tropical countries consume large amounts of coconut water, hoping to increase their unborn child's strength and vitality.

Folklore aside, there is now scientific evidence of the numerous health benefits of coconuts. While these health-boosting properties extend to everyone, they can be particularly beneficial to pregnant women. Here are some of the amazing ways the coconut can be a pregnant woman's best friend:

o It alleviates vomiting - coconut water has long been used as a remedy for typhoid, malaria and other illness-induced vomiting. Thus, it should also help mitigate a bad case of morning sickness.

o It soothes the stomach - in addition to offering some relief from vomiting, coconut water can quell a queasy tummy and lessen the symptoms of nausea.

o Virgin coconut oil balances blood sugar and controls diabetes - this also helps keep morning sickness in check and offers some protection against gestational diabetes, a potentially dangerous condition common among pregnant women.

o It alkalizes the body - high in potassium, magnesium and other alkalizing minerals, coconut water can help to create an environment more conducive to conception and perhaps even reduce the risk of miscarriage.

o It keeps the body hydrated - nature's "sports drink", coconut water replaces fluids and minerals lost during physical exertion as well as those extra needed to help support pregnancy and expanding blood volume. Dehydration can be particularly threatening during pregnancy.

o It is a mild laxative - drinking moderate amounts of coconut water can help to keep things running smoothly and relieve the constipation so common during pregnancy.

o It cleanses the kidneys and offers protection against UTI's - Urinary Tract Infections are very common during pregnancy and can be dangerous if antibiotics are not used to treat them. Best to avoid them all together!

o It keeps the body cool - with excess weight, progesterone, and anxiety, it's easy to get overheated during pregnancy. Drinking coconut water helps to regulate body temperature and keep you cool.

o It is great for skin - virgin coconut oil can be applied to soothe the dry, itchy skin associated with pregnancy; it may also help to reduce the occurrence of stretch marks; and, when applied to the perineum in the weeks leading up to labor, can help reduce tearing during birth. Coconut water applied to the face helps to clear blackheads and acne that many women experience with the surge of hormones during pregnancy.

o It boosts the immune system - virgin coconut oil is comprised of nearly 50% lauric acid, which has been shown to have antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties. This can help protect a mother-to-be from a host of potentially threatening infections as well as boost her immunity, which is naturally weakened during pregnancy.

o It promotes healthy lactation - the only other significant source of lauric acid is human breast milk. Research has shown that lactating mothers who consume virgin coconut oil and other coconut products have higher levels of lauric and capric acids in their breast milk; this increases its antimicrobial and immune boosting properties, while promoting both brain and bone development in the infant. Since the body stores lauric acid in the adipose tissues, consuming coconut during pregnancy may also help to ensure successful lactation.

With all that in mind, pregnant women would be nuts not to go for coconuts!

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Pregnancy is three trimesters on a big hormonal roller coaster. For some women, these changes in hormones can bring blessed relief from migraines, especially in the second and third trimester. But for others, the hormonal fluctuations of pregnancy can be the trigger that causes migraines. So what's a woman to do to find headache relief pregnant? Is there help? Yes! You have a range of options. But before trying any of them, see your doctor to discuss which option is right for you and your baby. Also, if your migraine headache is accompanied by fever, blurred vision, lasts for hours or returns often, see your physician immediately.

The first and easiest thing you can do to prevent a migraine headache while pregnant is to avoid migraine triggers. The most common triggers are caffeine, chocolate, foods containing monosodium glutamate, cheeses and processed meats. A healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy is achievable even when avoiding these foods. If chocolate is a mandatory food group in your pregnancy, you can give yourself a chocolate trial to see if it is the culprit. If it isn't...INDULGE!

The second thing you can do is RELAX! Slow down for a few minutes every day and take a break from the pressures of your life. Lying down in a quiet room and deep breathing can do wonders to bring stress levels down. If this is your first pregnancy, take advantage of this time while you don't have other children to care for...let others do for you, and say YES to all offers of help.

Regular exercise has been proven effective in migraine relief. Exercise is not only an excellent tension reducer, but it also increases blood circulation and oxygenation in the body, helps rid your body of toxins, helps you sleep better and boosts endomorphins, your body's natural pain fighters, among other things. Thirty minutes of moderate exercise daily can go a long way towards long term relief from migraine pain. Do it all in one shot, or break it up into smaller 10 minute segments, whichever works best for your schedule.

Many alternative or natural options can offer migraine headache relief pregnant. There are a number of medicine free options that can be very effective in relieving migraine pain. Massage and/or aroma-therapy are two great medication-free options. Essential oils including lavender, sandalwood and peppermint are an especially effective headache cure and can be diluted in water (5 drops in a basin of water) and applied on a compress to the neck, or used in a massage oil. Massage to the feet or the web of skin between the thumb and first finger are effective pressure points for headache pain relief.

Alternating hot and cold compresses relieves migraine pain in many women. For some, plunging ones hands into a basin of hot water is helpful. Others find relief from a cloth-wrapped ice pack placed directly on the site of the pain, or to the back of the neck. Hot packs placed on the stomach or back can also divert blood flow from the head and offer relief.

If you still are fighting migraine headache pain after trying the methods mentioned above, check with your doctor, as there are herbs and medications that can be taken safely during pregnancy. Acetaminophen (Tylenol) is the most commonly recommended pain reliever during pregnancy. It is available over the counter and is considered safe to take while pregnant. Never take ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve) or aspirin without permission from your doctor. These medications are part of the NSAID class and are to be avoided during pregnancy without a doctor's supervision. At this point there are no preventative migraine medications classified in the lowest risk category for pregnancy. Depending on the severity of your migraines and the impact on your quality of life, however, the benefits of many of these medications may outweigh the risks. Certain narcotics and some preventative drugs such as beta-blockers and anti-depressants can be used during pregnancy under a doctor's supervision. This is a decision that only you and your doctor can make together based on your own personal risk-benefit ratio.

There are many herbal supplements than have been shown to be safe and effective for preventing, treating or reducing migraine pain. The most common herbs for migraines are peppermint, feverfew, passion flower, gingko, cayenne and butterbur. Like with prescription medication, check with your physician about the safety of using any of these supplements during pregnancy. Being an herb does not automatically guarantee it is safe to take while pregnant. Many of these herbs have strong medicinal qualities and need to be cleared before taking while pregnant.

So what's the best way to achieve headache relief pregnant? As you can see, there are many remedies and treatment options you can try if you are experiencing migraines or severe headaches while pregnant. Feel free to experiment with food changes or any of the home remedies recommended above on your own, but consult your doctor before trying any medications or herbal treatments. With a little experimentation and luck, you will find the perfect combination of methods to relieve your migraine pain while pregnant and hopefully pamper yourself a little in the process!

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Are you at risk of, or experiencing, postpartum depression? Would you like a more natural alternative to drug therapies? Chances are your diet is lacking in essential fatty acids and eating more fish or taking fish oil supplements could make all the difference.

First, let's clarify what we mean by postpartum depression, or postnatal depression. This is a form of clinical depression, usually lasting for several months. It's characterised by feelings of sadness, anxiety and irritableness, fatigue, insomnia, appetite changes, reduced libido and crying episodes. It shouldn't be confused with maternity blues or 'baby blues', which generally last only a few hours or days.

But whether you're experiencing postpartum depression or a dose of the baby blues, it seems that fish oil could be the key to alleviating both conditions.

It's not the oil itself but the omega 3 fatty acids in oily fish that can help to improve mood and behaviour.

It has been well known for some time that fatty acids are essential for the healthy formation of the brain's nerve cell membranes and membrane fluidity. Because nerve cell function depends on proper membrane functioning and membrane fluidity, any changes can have a negative effect on behavior, mood and mental function.

A 1998 report in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that patients with depression had significantly lower levels of omega 3s in their red blood cell membranes.

It seems that omega 3 makes it easier for serotonin - the chemical that carries messages from one brain cell to another - to pass through cell membranes. Increasing the fatty acid levels has a direct effect on increasing serotonin levels and the more serotonin, the better a person's mood and behaviour.

People with bipolar disorder can also benefit from increased omega 3s as their mood swings can be significantly smoothed out. Anyone taking antidepressants for postpartum depression should also consider boosting their intake, as studies show that the effectiveness of this medication can be improved.

To reinforce the connection between a good intake of omega 3s and reduced postpartum depression, people from cultures that consume a lot of these essential fatty acids have significantly lower rates of depression.

Fish or fish oil supplements?

In recent times, most of us have tried to reduce our consumption of fats in the interests of good heart health and our waistlines. But it seems that we may have gone a little too far.

Grass-fed beef and eggs are both good sources of omega 3 fatty acids but we have turned away from these saturated fat foods in favour of polyunsaturated plant fats, such as corn, soybean and sunflower oils.

Although these plant-based oils can help reduce bad saturated fats in our diet, they are low in omega 3s.

The best source of fatty acids is fish oil. This is because it contains the two main fatty acids, DHA and EPA. You can also get omega 3s from plants such as flaxseeds and walnuts but they don't contain both EPA and DHA. Instead, they contain ALA, another type of fatty acid, which your body can convert to EPA and DHA. Unfortunately, the conversion process isn't very efficient and you need about 11 grams of ALA just to get one gram of DHA.

So oily fish is the best source of omega 3s for postpartum depression.

But there is a downside to consuming more oily fish. Often, these fish are farmed or caught in waters that contain high levels of mercury and other heavy metals, as well as PCBs and dioxins. These substances can seriously damage your health over time and so many people turn to fish oil supplements instead.

A good quality supplement will be molecularly distilled to remove any trace of contaminants. It should also be fresh - check the manufacturer's certificate of analysis (COA) on their website to make sure they test their product's oxidation levels. An oxidised product will be full of free radicals, which damage cells and undo all the benefits of taking the oil.

So there's no need to put up with the symptoms of postpartum depression, or the baby blues, when help could be at hand in the form of simple fish oil supplements. If you would like more information about omega 3 and its many benefits, or about the supplements I use daily myself, please visit my website.

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If you are considering undergoing an assisted reproductive treatment to increase your chances of conceiving, the first thing you should know is that it won't be cheap. Secondly, experts will tell you that there are absolutely no guarantees for artificial insemination to work.

How much does artificial insemination cost if you're using your husband's sperm?
You'll be able to save a considerable amount of money by opting to use your husband's sperm. In a way, using your husband's sperm and foregoing the use of donor sperms as well as surrogate mothers would completely ensure that your future child is indeed the product of both your genes. Science just helped in having yours created and delivered safely.

The bad news, however, is that in spite of using your husband's sperm and without the services of a surrogate mother, you will still have to pay at least $300 for each cycle taken. In some cases, it could be as high as $700. If the sample taken isn't good for any reason then you'll have to pay for another cycle.

How much does equipment and medication for artificial insemination cost?
The amount for these fees would be somewhere between $1,500 and $4,000. The price can be higher depending on the institution that you're receiving treatment for artificial insemination. A small clinic may charge less than a hospital, but a NYC-based clinic could cost more than having treatment in a public hospital in Wyoming.

How much does artificial insemination cost in total?
Studies show that couples receiving this treatment would have to pay an average of $12,400 and that's just for one attempt of getting sperm and egg cells to meet.

How much can insurance companies reimburse you for?
This would depend on which insurance company you have a policy with as well as where you're living. Some states, for instance, require coverage for artificial insemination but your policy's terms and conditions may state that only the cost of fertility medications would be covered and nothing else.

If you would like to start with a more affordable treatment for conceiving, consider trying out any of the best natural treatments designed to help women conceive, like acupuncture for fertility. They're not just affordable but entirely safe to try as well. These suggestions have been very successful for other women. Learning more about these methods can help you in accomplishing your goal of getting pregnant.

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All Alabama leave laws cover only public sector employees - private sector employees are covered under the FMLA and gain no additional benefits from the state of Alabama. Qualified public sector employees include both "classified service" and "unclassified service" state employees, with a number of exclusions:

  • Officers elected by a vote of the people

  • Officers and employees of the Legislature

  • Officers, attendants and employees of the circuit courts, clerks of county jury boards, and deputy circuit solicitors

  • Members of boards and commissions, whether appointed or self-perpetuating

  • Heads of departments required by law to be appointed by the Governor or by boards or commissions with the Governor's approval

  • All officers and employees of the state's institutions of higher learning, teacher training institutions and normal schools

  • All officers and employees of all educational, eleemosynary and correctional institutions which are governed by boards of trusties

  • Secondary agricultural schools and vocational school

  • All inmate help in all charitable, penal and correctional institutions

  • All commissioned and warrant officers and enlisted men of the National Guard and Naval Militia of the state, in their respective military and naval grades

  • The Governor's private secretary, and those employees of the Governor's office paid exclusively out of the Governor's emergency or contingent funds

  • The employees of the State Docks Department engaged in railroad service and subject to the provisions of an Act of Congress known as the Railway Labor Act.

Compared to the FMLA, Alabama allows more flexibility when using sick leave. Employees eligible for sick leave may earn four hours of leave for every two weeks of service, up to 150 days. Employees may use sick leave upon the death of, or to care for, an ill member of his/her immediate family. An employee may also take sick leave if the person is not an immediate family member but the employee has "unusually strong personal ties with that person". If approved, permanent employees may also receive advanced sick leave if the employee is out of sick leave and the need for it arises. All of these benefits have no counterparts in the FMLA and are exclusive to Alabama leave law.

Alabama leave laws state that all pregnant female employees must work until they are disabled as a result of the pregnancy and must return to work as soon as they are no longer disabled. The FMLA grants additional benefits, allowing its 12 workweeks of unpaid leave to be used "for the birth and care of a newborn child".

Alabama offers its qualifying employees bereavement leave (up to three days per occurrence if all accrued sick leave is exhausted), donated leave (employees can donate leave to other employees equal or lower in pay grade who require catastrophic sick leave or maternity leave), leave without pay (for up to one year, with the option of being called back if the employee's attendance "is necessary to the efficient conduct of the business of the state"), mandatory annual leave / leave without pay (employees may be required to use accrued leave if they cannot work for a number of reasons), and education leave (permanent employees may receive full or partial pay if their coursework is directly related to the improvement of the employee's "performance of their current job"). All of these types of leave are exclusive to Alabama and have no counterparts in the FMLA.

Alabama also grants 21 days of paid leave to active service members on all days they participate in military training, pertaining to the Alabama National Guard, Alabama Naval Militia, Army Reserve, Navy Reserve, Marine Corps Reserve, Air Force Reserve and the Coast Guard Reserve. This leave is also exclusive to Alabama - the FMLA only grants leave to employees with direct family in the military who have sustained a serious injury or illness.

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Can you pay your bills for sixteen weeks on $561 per week, before taxes? This is an important question to ask yourself if you work in New Jersey, and you are planning a pregnancy. New Jersey has some of the richest state mandated disability benefit programs for pregnancy and maternity leave. You are covered for four weeks before your delivery, and at least six weeks after you give birth. Plus, you get an additional six weeks to bond with your baby.

But not every couple can afford to miss almost four months of work with a significant pay cut. The NJ benefit represents a 50% pay cut for a woman making $58,000 per year. You can close the gap by purchasing supplemental short term disability insurance before getting pregnant.

NJ Temporary Disability Insurance

The New Jersey Temporary Disability Insurance program mandates that people who work in the state for a private employer must be covered. The program replaces up to two thirds of your income, or $561 per week whichever is less.

For normal pregnancy, benefits are payable for up to four weeks prior to delivery and six weeks after delivery. You may additional benefits if your doctor certifies you are unable to work due to complications, Caesarian delivery, or because of a simultaneous disability.

New Jersey Paid Family Leave

The NJ Paid Family Leave provides an extension of the temporary disability benefits for up to an additional six weeks for you to bond with your newborn baby. It can be taken once your doctor certifies that you are able to return to work after your delivery.

Add the two together, and you get at least sixteen weeks of benefits. Your benefits may last longer if you experience complications, c-section delivery, or a sickness and/or injury.

So, back to our original question; can you afford to miss sixteen weeks with at least a one third pay cut or more? If your income is $43,758 per year or less, you get the one third pay cut. If your income is above that figure, you hit the $561 per week cap, and your pay cut will be much bigger.

Supplemental Short Term Disability

Purchase supplemental short term disability insurance before getting pregnant. Your benefit for normal delivery may greatly exceed the premium you pay, creating additional maternity leave income. Use this extra income to fill the hole in NJ's temporary disability program. Give yourself a bigger financial cushion so that you can enjoy each of your sixteen weeks away from work, without worrying about how to pay your bills.

You may experience also experience complications, or delivery by c-section. This means you will be away from work for more than sixteen weeks. In addition, you may have some unexpected medical bills. Your supplemental short term disability insurance will cover these events as well, helping you feel more secure. If you experience a difficult pregnancy, the last thing you want is financial stress.

All of the above make purchasing supplemental short term disability a smart thing to do. Get started before getting pregnant.

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Pregnancy Massage and the Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

The great physical, mental and emotional changes of pregnancy affect your lifestyle, your job and your relationships with friends and family. Pregnancy massage helps you integrate these changes successfully. Massage during pregnancy offers undeniable physical benefits. Massage is healthy and helpful to expectant mothers and pregnancy massage therapy is used to improve overall health, decrease stress and relieve muscle aches and pains. It addresses the many discomforts associated with the skeletal, muscular and circulation changes brought on by hormone shifts during pregnancy.

Massage alleviates low back, hip and leg pain, oedema, nausea, heartburn and constipation. Regular massage decreases anxiety and lowers stress hormones during pregnancy. Labour is shorter and easier while babies are healthier. There are fewer obstetric and postnatal complications, such as premature birth and low birth weight. Massage is good for you and your baby's health. Mothers massaged during pregnancy bond better with their babies.

Massage relaxes you which eases the discomforts of pregnancy. Massage makes you feel great and this boosts your self-confidence and happiness. Pregnancy massage strengthens your immune system, reduces the negative effects of stress, improves the quality of sleep and gives you more energy.

In addition to calming the nervous system and relaxing tight muscles, circulation is increased by massage so nutrients and oxygen essential for health and energy are transported to the organs and tissues while metabolic waste that make you feel fatigued or nauseous during pregnancy is removed.

Massage during pregnancy makes the lymph system function more efficiently which boosts the immune system and removes excess toxins. Massage also helps stabilize hormone levels and mood swings. Expectant mothers can find relief from the depression and anxiety caused by hormonal changes during pregnancy.

Benefits of Pregnancy Massage

Massage therapy is a wonderful, complimentary choice for prenatal care and a healthy way to promote general well-being and reduce stress. Pregnancy massage is an important addition to prenatal health care and is not a luxury. Massage helps to relieve pregnancy's normal discomforts, such as oedema, joint pain, headaches, backache, leg cramps and stiff neck. It can also give you a better night's sleep as it relaxes and soothes the nervous system. Below are examples of how massage can benefit you throughout your pregnancy:

Massage in the First Trimester

  • Relieves muscular tension and headaches

  • Helps balance emotional and hormonal changes

  • Helps alleviate morning sickness

  • Improves circulation and oxygenation of soft tissues and muscles as well as removal of metabolic waste

  • Reduces fatigue

  • Reduces strain on the joints

  • Induces relaxation, reduces stress and creates a supportive, caring environment

Massage in the Second Trimester

  • Eases heartburn and constipation since overall relaxation stimulates and balances digestion and elimination

  • Alleviates muscle cramping, pain and joint dysfunction in the back, hips and shoulders

  • Alleviates sciatica

  • Relieves leg cramps

  • Assists postural alignment to relieve pain from uterine ligament strain

  • Helps to lengthen the spine and create more space for the baby

  • Helps maintain blood flow through the pelvic area which reduces blood and fluid congestion in the legs

  • Improves skin elasticity, reducing stretch marks

Massage in the Third Trimester

  • Reduces swelling/oedema

  • Continuous assessment for early detection of preeclampsia and deep vein thrombosis

  • Relief from restriction in the groin can increase blood and lymph return from the legs

  • Relieves pain from varicosities

  • Enhances sleep

  • Relaxes and calms your baby

  • Prepares pelvic muscles for the birth process by relaxing them

  • Relaxation brought by frequent massage reduces the build up of discomfort, impatience and anxiety in the last weeks of pregnancy

  • Helps in inducing labour in post-term pregnancies or in inducing early labour in high risk pregnancies such as large babies in diabetic mothers

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