What to Expect When You’re Expecting by Heidi Murkoff and Sharon Mazel has been the “go-to” resource book for thousands and thousands (and thousands) of pregnant women for the past 25 years.

Its popularity among women is the reason why it is been on the New York Times bestseller list for 355 weeks, with nearly 15 million copies in print.

It was the first pregnancy guide written by women, for women… not by any doctors. And it truly revolutionized the world of “pregnancy” for women by being the “pregnancy bible.” You have a question, the book HAS an answer. It’s THAT thorough.

And through the past 25 years, What to Expect When You’re Expecting has been updated and revised with current health and medical information. Something that today’s pregnant women need and expect.

And most recently, for its 4th revised edition, Amazon.com describes it as:

A new book for a new generation of expectant moms— featuring a new look, a fresh perspective, and a friendlier-than-ever voice. It’s filled with the most up-to-date information reflecting not only what’s new in pregnancy, but what’s relevant to pregnant women. Heidi Murkoff has rewritten every section of the book, answering dozens of new questions and including loads of new asked-for material, such as a detailed week-by-week fetal development section in each of the monthly chapters, an expanded chapter on pre-conception, and a brand new one on carrying multiples. More comprehensive, reassuring, and empathetic than ever, the Fourth Edition incorporates the most recent developments in obstetrics and addresses the most current lifestyle trends (from tattooing and belly piercing to Botox and aromatherapy). There’s more than ever on pregnancy matters practical (including an expanded section on workplace concerns), physical (with more symptoms, more solutions), emotional (more advice on riding the mood roller coaster), nutritional (from low-carb to vegan, from junk food–dependent to caffeine-addicted), and sexual (what’s hot and what’s not in pregnant lovemaking), as well as much more support for that very important partner in parenting, the dad-to-be.

But finally… there is one change that What to Expect When You’re Expecting has made that was long overdue. Very long overdue.

A new cover.

The cover model-mama has gotten a make-over.

The mama now gracing the cover has long hair, hip jeans, fashionable boots and a formfitting, chic top. She stands, ready to face the world…

No more forlorn looking mama. No more rocking chair.

Jocelyn Noveck with The Associated Press wrote a fantastic article that appeared in The Providence Journal on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008. The article discusses the changes made to the “iconic” pregnancy book, quotes from Heidi Murkoff and speaks of the importance of this “American pregnancy bible.”

Read the article HERE.

And grab yourself a new, updated version of What to Expect When You’re Expecting!

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Every new parent enters their first summer season with a certain amount of reservation. With so many things to be wary of, combined with the natural anxiety of being a new parent, it can be challenging to be confident about one’s capabilities. As any parent will tell you, a certain amount of trial-and-error will come into play. On the other hand, a little bit of common sense will go a long way too.

While it is natural to want to keep your baby’s skin covered, parents must be careful not to overdress the little one. Yes, it is good idea to keep baby’s skin protected from the sun. Just be sure that your baby is not overdressed. Try to use clothing that is made from light cotton or linen, and always be sure to cover the wee one’s head with a great, big hat.

It is next-to-impossible to completely avoid the sun in the summer months. Many parents opt to keep their children out of the sun, as opposed to using sunscreen and letting them roam free. This is a very thoughtful approach, but not always practical. Be sure to use a high quality sunscreen, with an SPF rating no lower than 30, when you are in the sun with baby. And don’t forget that the little one will need sunscreen when in the pool, too!

Insects are another consideration, especially those pesky mosquitoes! In the past they were more of an annoyance than a health concern, but in recent times there are some valid concerns regarding West Nile Virus. Aside from the standard mosquito prevention techniques advised by the public health authorities, there are a few alternatives available. As a parent, I would not feel comfortable applying DEET to may baby’s skin. DEET is an extremely poisonous and toxic chemical designed for the military, not for babies. Try using scented oil such as tea tree oil or rosemary. These are safe, natural alternatives. If you are going to be spending time in the wilderness, make sure baby is wearing light clothing that leaves very little skin exposed.

If your little one is old enough to ride a tricycle, be sure that you have a good quality helmet for him or her to wear. Every year, hundreds of children are rushed to the hospital for easily avoidable injuries. Play it safe, and make sure your child always wears a helmet when playing with any moving toy with wheels. For smaller children that are just learning to walk, why not consider using a baby harness? This way, you can let your child run free without having to worry about scrapes and bruises! Have a great summer, and play safe.

Rachel Thompson is the proud mother of two young children, and a member of the editorial team at thebabydepartment.com – a wonderful online resource for parents and caregivers with information about crib safety, bath time, toys and more.

One of our favorite Smart Mama Blogs is Kids Stuff and Stories – a destination where you can find some great books and activities to do with your children.

Blogger and the Smart Mama behind Kids Stuff and Stories shares with us some of her favorite book picks.

Winnie The Pooh: Complete Collection of Stories and Poems

Winnie the Pooh: The Complete Collection of Stories and Poems was originally published in 1994, but this beautifully produced slip-cased edition has been specially created to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the publication of the very first stories about Winnie the Pooh.

It consists of the classic, well-loved, tried-and-tested stories by AA Milne, from “Winnie the Pooh” (1926), “The House at Pooh Corner” (1928 ) and the poetry from “When We Were Very Young” (1924) and “Now We Are Six” (1927).

My favorite story is the one where Tigger and Roo get stuck up the tree…

Please Don’t Chat To The Bus Driver by Shen Roddie

The bus is late so please don’t chat to the bus driver… Various animals get on the bus and are told not to chat to the bus driver. Can you guess what happens next?

This book is so original and so very very funny! You may not have come across this but do not be put off by that. It is a winner and expect to be reading it 3 times a day. You have been warned.

We Honestly Can Look After Your Dog (Featuring Charlie & Lola) by Lauren Child

Lola loves dogs. So when Charlie takes Lola and her friend Lotta to the park with his friend Marv and Marv’s dog Sizzles, Lola is thrilled. Marv lets her and Lotta look after Sizzles on the promise that they don’t let him off the lead…

As seen on BBC TV. You really can’t go wrong with this. It has been a big hit in Britain for the last couple of years.

The Bears Winter House by John Yeoman (Illustrated by Quentin Blake)

This has always been in my top 5 books of all time for young children. The only problem is that it is possibly out of print. There are a few second hand copies on Amazon.co.uk (the British site) and prices range from a couple of pounds up to over a hundred! I think even a battered paperback copy will be fun so why not do what I did and get a battered paperback copy off Amazon, ebay or your friendly neighbourhood second hand book seller.

The book is beautifully illustrated by Quentin Blake who is best known for the work he did on the Roald Dahl books.

The story is all about Bear who starts building a winter house to hibernate in. Along come Chicken and Pig to watch but don’t really want to help. Soon. however, summer is over and the wind is whistling through the hen hut and pig sty and they are getting a little bit chilly.

Will Bear let them stay the winter? Will they behave if he does? You can probably guess the answers to both these questions. A great fun book.

We had a few Smart Mamas email us the link to a very interesting article that was published in the New York Times on Monday, May 19th, 2008 by Julia Moskin.

For an All-Organic Formula, Baby, That’s Sweet discusses how parents who are buying Similac Organic may, in fact, be giving their babies a sweeter taste. It is the only brand of organic formula that is sweetened with sucrose, which is sweeter than sugars used in non-organic formulas.

This article brings up many issues concerning the “organic” approach in bringing up baby.

We are interested to hear your views on this article.

Email us at audrey [at] pinks and blues [dot] com for your thoughts. We would like to have a follow-up on this topic from your views/thoughts/opinions.

Amy from Crunchy Domestic Goddess wrote a powerful blog on May 15th, 2008 that we asked if we could share on Smart Mama…

Women, Children Resort to Eating Dirt Cookies in Haiti: The Global Food Crisis
May 15, 2008

This post is part of Bloggers Unite for Human Rights

If you live in the United States or North America and are reading this blog, chances are you’ve never known what real hunger feels like. Sure most of us have uttered things like, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse,” “I’m starving!,” or “There’s nothing to eat” while staring into a refrigerator or cabinet full of food (I know I’m guilty of all three), but the reality is that the majority of us always know where our next meal is coming from and we don’t truly want for much.

We may also complain about the rising food costs (again, I am guilty) and perhaps have had to scale back on the groceries we buy or forgo other luxuries, but we are still able to provide nutritious meals for ourselves and our families. We are very fortunate.

Elsewhere in the world in developing nations, people are not so fortunate. The rising cost of food is taking it’s toll on the poorest of poor. In countries like Haiti, people are resorting to literally eating dirt in order to fill their bellies and stay alive. “Cookies” made from dirt, salt, and vegetable shortening have become regular meals for many Haitian men, women and children.

The price of food continues to rise and even the dirt to make the cookies, which comes from the country’s central plateau, has gone up in cost.

At the market in the La Saline slum, a two-cup portion of rice now sells for 60 cents, up 10 cents from December and 50 percent from a year ago. Beans, condensed milk, and fruit have gone up at a similar rate, and even the price of the edible clay has risen over the past year by almost $1.50. Dirt to make 100 cookies now costs $5, the cookie makers say.

Still, at about 5 cents apiece, the cookies are a bargain compared with food staples. About 80 percent of people in Haiti live on less than $2 a day.

I thought long and hard about what topic to cover for Bloggers Unite for Human Rights. Given that I’ve already written extensively in the past about maternal health both because of my personal interest and CE position with BlogHer, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone and tackle something I didn’t have much knowledge about. While there are so many human rights crises going on in the world right now – the Myanmar cyclone and China earthquake just to name a couple of the most recent – I decided on something slightly less in the spotlight, though no less significant, in hopes of educating myself as well as others.

A friend of mine named Heather is personally invested in the situation in Haiti as she and her husband (along with their two biological children) have been trying to adopt two children – Clara (age 3) and Emerson (age 1) – from an orphanage there since March 2007. I took the opportunity today to ask Heather some questions about their adoption experience thus far and find out more about how the food crisis is affecting the lives of the children in the Haitian orphanage. She was kind enough to share personal information and provide me with some pictures of her children.

Amy: Have the living/food conditions changed between your first visit to the country (and/or orphanage) and your most recent visit? If so, how? And when, roughly, were those visits?

Heather: Our last visit was in January 2008. The visit planned for April 2008 was canceled due to the rioting in Port au Prince over the rising costs of food. We have also visited in July and October 2007 and plan to go again in July 2008.

We aren’t able to see much of the country during our visits as our orphanage only allows us to visit on escorted trips and we are not allowed to leave the hotel while in the country. From what we see driving from the airport to the hotel, Port au Prince seems cleaner and there are more functioning traffic lights. There are still canals filled with garbage and wild pigs eating that garbage. There is still the stench of burning garbage.

The conditions in the orphanage appear about the same since our first trip in April 2007 with the exception of there being 50-75 more children in the 3000 square foot house where they live. We believe there are now approximately 150 children living in what is a mansion by Haitian standards. There is no yard – the house is surrounded by concrete which extends about 10-20 feet from the walls of the house. The property is surrounded by a 15-20 foot tall cinder block wall topped with broken bottles. Laundry is done by hand and hung anywhere possible to dry.

The infants are all kept on the main floor of the house – probably in what used to be the living and dining rooms. Children who are walking up to about age five live upstairs. They sleep in double- or triple-decker cribs with at least two children in each. The orphanage’s directors and their children also live upstairs. There is one bathroom. Older children generally live in one of the other two buildings the orphanage leases in the suburbs of Port au Prince.

Amy: How is the current food crisis affecting the orphanage?
Heather: Parents are given very little information about the daily life of their children, however, we know that they usually eat two meals per day and one snack. This food is usually rice and beans – little to no protein, dairy, or fresh fruits and vegetables. Their water is rationed as they do not have a safe source of water other then bottled water which is expensive. Infants are weaned off formula well before they would be in the US as the costs of formula are astronomical compared to rice and beans.
Parents are attempting to collect 36,000 pounds of food to be sent by container ship to the orphanage in July.

Amy: Have your visits to Haiti changed the way you look at food and food waste in our country of plenty?

Heather: Every interaction I have with other people, every show I watch on TV, every news report I hear or read, every purchase I make reminds me of the overabundance we have in our country and how just a small fraction of what we have would provide Haitians with “luxuries” they’ve never experienced – daily protein, fresh fruit and vegetables, proper medical care, shoes, and so on.

Listening to people complain about the hardships in the US makes it ever so clear that we have absolutely no idea what true need is.

Amy: Is there anything else you’d like to share about your children, the orphanage or your experiences visiting Haiti in general?

Heather: This is the most painful process I’ve even participated in – politics taking precedence over children’s lives, the different value placed on children in a country where it is common for children to die, the lack of urgency, difficult communications, arbitrary laws enforced (or not) at someone’s whim. Every day we live with the reality that our children might die before they come home. Clara, at age 39 months, weighs 18 pounds. She has not gained any weight in 15 months. She has TB. This is in the orphanage where her biological mother brought her to receive better care than she could provide at home. International adoption is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. I’m not sure I will survive it with my sanity intact.

Heather’s children are at Foyer de Sion orphanage. She doesn’t expect Clara and Emerson to get to come home to the United States until 2009. If you’d like to make a donation (PayPal accepted) to the orphanage, please visit Sion Fonds.

What can we do here at home to help with the food crisis?

Aside from making donations to charitable donations, there are other things we can do in our own part of the world that can have an impact on the global food crisis.

– I wrote a couple weeks ago about why growing even a little bit of our own food is so important. Even if you only start a container garden for some herbs and a tomato plant, every little bit makes a difference.

– We can also reduce our meat consumption. Meat is much more costly to produce than grains and energy is lost in the process of feeding grains to animals. “Though some 800 million people on the planet now suffer from hunger or malnutrition, the majority of corn and soy grown in the world feeds cattle, pigs and chickens. This despite the inherent inefficiencies: about two to five times more grain is required to produce the same amount of calories through livestock as through direct grain consumption, according to Rosamond Naylor, an associate professor of economics at Stanford University. It is as much as 10 times more in the case of grain-fed beef in the United States.” – Rethinking the Meat-Guzzler

– Become aware of your food waste and look for ways to reduce it. Take smaller portions and go back for seconds if needed. Buy only what you will consume so you aren’t throwing away produce once it goes bad. Teach your children about food waste and how to reduce it.

– Compost your food waste.

I want to hear from you too. What do you think will help with the food crisis? What are you personally doing to make a difference? Head over to Amy’s blogCrunchy Domestic Goddess.

Many women choose natural childbirth in order to participate fully in the birth of their baby and to have control over the birthing experience. By choosing natural childbirth, she will be using a minimum of routine interventions during labor and is expecting to be unmedicated throughout the birth.

Natural childbirth means that the birthing mother accepts that she will probably feel pain and discomfort as part of labor and birth. Positive aspects of natural childbirth include no loss of sensation. She will also remain alert during labor and birth.

By choosing natural childbirth, you can move around freely and use whatever positions you find comfortable throughout labor. Many women feel a sense of empowerment or accomplishment after giving birth unmedicated. Even though they had pain, many choose to remain unmedicated for future births.

Most techniques advocated with natural childbirth are non-invasive. Partners and other family members will feel more involved as they help the mother cope and work through her contractions.

Childbirth classes teach techniques to help the mother attain a natural childbirth. These techniques may be practiced before labor begins. By practicing and understanding these techniques, some of the fear and anxiety she may be experiencing is lessened.

Unlike an epidural, these techniques do not remove the pain. They give you means to cope with it. If you still find that you cannot deal with the pain, an epidural or other pain relief can be given in the hospital if you are not too close to delivery.

Getting ready for natural childbirth helps a family prepare for their new baby. First, you develop your birth plan. This is a written plan for you and your caregivers that give them an idea of your wishes during labor and birth.

You can have a natural childbirth without drugs in a hospital, a birthing center or at home. Birthing centers are an option that is family-centered and is a compromise between a hospital and birthing at home. Hospitals are moving towards this design by calling their maternity wards birthing centers, and creating a more home-like environment. Relaxed visitation hours are often employed.

Achieving a natural childbirth can be easier when you use a midwife, a doula or other birth attendant. Midwives are familiar with comfort measures to help you cope with labor pain without resorting to drugs, and can provide a more personalized prenatal care routine than you can get from an obstetrician.

If you have an obstetrician, your labor care will be provided by the hospital nurses. Some nurses have studied natural techniques, but they are only available until their shift is over. You may get assigned a nurse on the next shift whose preferred method of labor management is to repeatedly offer an epidural.

Even if your heart is set on a natural childbirth, it is important to remain flexible. No one can predict how labor will flow, and sometimes interventions are truly needed.

Studies have proven that if a woman has continuous support, they are less likely to need pain medication for labor and delivery than if they are alone or feel unsupported. Partners can learn to do this in childbirth classes, and doulas can be hired to help. Unlike nurses, doulas don’t work by shifts… they are there for the duration of the birth.

By: Carol Stack. Get more information about natural childbirth and other health issues here, including tips about diabetes, asthma treatments and high blood pressure.

Here are some of our favorite blogs from real Smart Mamas in the blogosphere.

Enjoy!

Pundit Mom’s post – Non-Mom? Really? Are You Sure You Want To Go There?

MomLogic’s post – The Duggars Are Sex Machines

To Think is To Create’s post – Hey Mama: A Tribute to Motherhood