Baby due date accuracy

Since the beginning of my wife's pregnancy I have been somewhat suspicious of how accurate delivery due dates are.

Well, in fact only about 5% of all babies are born on their due dates, with estimates ranging from as low as 2% to as high as 8%. Whatever the number, my wife is not among the few of every hundred women who deliver on their target date.

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Sleep habits of fruit bats and pregnant women

Owls. Fruit bats. Vampires. Pregnant women.

What do these creatures have in common? None of them sleep well at night and, in the case of pregnant women, neither do their partners.

A pea-sized bladder, sore back, indigestion, swollen ankles and tender breasts are ingredients in the uncomfortable cocktail that makes pregnant women sleep poorly. They all add up to interrupted sleep on the part of the pregnant woman and, by proxy, the expectant father will not sleep well either. Dads-to-be should make sure that in the months prior to the birth they eat a balanced diet and try to maintain a regular sleep schedule so they are not completely fatigued and unhealthy before the little one arrives.

This may be nature's way of preparing the new parent for many sleepless nights ahead. I would however much prefer being woken by my new, adorable (as he will of course be) son than by my wife's huffing and puffing as she struggles to roll out of bed. I'm actually looking forward to being woken by the little one, for now it's the wife that's driving me to exhaustion.

Prenatal checklist: Stock up on batteries

Since I have begun assembling the army of baby paraphernalia, cribs, bouncy seats, mobiles, monitors, soothers, I have come to the realization that I will need 8,247 AA batteries to power everything.

Anything that vibrates, blinks, plays music, makes noise when kicked or lights up will require AA batteries, usually between 4 and 6 each. Some use C's, some use D's, but they're all energy thirsty.

I strongly suggest stocking up on some batteries before the big day to make sure your fleet of baby and pregnancy-related items are powered and ready to roll, blink or buzz. I prefer to use rechargeables because they save money over time and are better for the environment. I've got a bunch of chargers going just to make sure we're all set.

If you're looking to buys some, Amazon has the Sony Quick Battery Charger with 4 AA Ni-MH Rechargeable Batteries for $19.49, which I think is well worth the cost. Add another 4 batteries in there to make sure you always have enough on reserve, and you should be set for a while.

My pregnant wife says: L'Occitane organic shea butter helps prevent stretch marks

Fear of stretch marks ranks high with many expectant mothers on their list of concerns about pregnancy; my wife is no exception. As soon as she found out she was pregnant she began moisturizing her belly with religious fervor, as though it were made of gator hide. Not only was she concerned about stretch marks, but as her tummy grew larger her skin in that area began to itch and become more sensitive.

While waiting for a train home from a New York business trip, I stopped in to L'Occitane in Grand Central Station to pick her up a small gift before my return. She loves that brand and as a newly invigorated skin care addict, I thought something from there would be an appropriate present. I set out to find shea butter as that was the one product I actually recalled her mentioning. However, when I first saw the price on the tin I was sure that it must include a personal masseuse to apply the moisturizer. That was not the case.

In spite of my initial sticker shock I ended up buying the shea butter because I wanted to get something for her and thought this was a fairly practical choice. (She loved it, so it was worth it.) I must say, while I would normally consider $39 for a tin of moisturizer to be high, it has lasted for six months and counting, and has preserved her tummy with baby's-bottom smoothness. (I talk to it all the time, so I know.) It's also organic, which is especially comforting during pregnancy to know that she's not slathering herself in potentially harmfully chemicals.

My wife strongly suggests the L'Occitane Pure Organic Shea Butter, and has added it to her Christmas wish list. So, if any of you guys are looking for a gift idea, there it is. It's available through Amazon for $39.

low-toxicity paints for nurseries

It's been a long time coming, but the reconstruction of our baby's nursery is nearly complete. The walls are sheetrocked and primed. The floors are sanded, stained and in the process of being coated with hydrathane.

In the interest of forming a healthier environment for our little one, we went with low toxic floor and wall coverings. Specifically we bought paints with a low volatile organic compound (VOC) content, and a floor varnish alternative to poly-urethane.

For the wall paint we used the Benjamin Moore Eco Spec paints which are listed to have a VOC content of under 1 gram per liter. Some other popular paint brands include Sherwin Williams and Pratt and Lambert. The paints are cost more, but I find it well worth the expense in consideration of my child's health. According to the EPA, the health effects of VOCs include:

Eye, nose, and throat irritation; headaches, loss of coordination, nausea; damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Some organics can cause cancer in animals; some are suspected or known to cause cancer in humans. Key signs or symptoms associated with exposure to VOCs include conjunctival irritation, nose and throat discomfort, headache, allergic skin reaction, dyspnea, declines in serum cholinesterase levels, nausea, emesis, epistaxis, fatigue, dizziness.
These are things an adult should not deal with, clearly I do not wish to subject an infant to them. has some more information on other brands of low VOC paints.

In addition, it's a good rule-of-thumb to allow a nursery painted with traditional paints (not with low VOC paints) to air out for at least a full month before a baby sleeps in it.

We used hydrathane, a water-based varnish, in place of standard poly-urethane on the wood floors at the advice of a gentleman at the hardware store. He informed me that it's more environmentally friendly, has less odor and is less toxic. The odor during application is significantly less than standard poly.

If you're in the process of redoing a nursery, I encourage you to seek out alternative materials that will make sure your child has a healthy start.

A bloody show is not an English musical

Along your journey as an expectant father, you will hear the term 'bloody show' used. No, it's not referring to an English play or musical, and yes, it will most likely make you cringe when you hear it for the first time. That's why I put if on my list of top 10 pregnancy terms that make men (and women) cringe).

The term is used to describe the presence of a small amount of blood in mucousy discharge a few days prior to birth. It often may accompany the mucous plug or pass gradually, but usually is an indicator that labor will begin within a few days.

If there is more than a few spots, a pregnant woman should call her doctor and let them know.

How far apart do contractions have to be before...

One question that many fathers have is how far apart should a pregnant woman's contractions be before going to the hospital?

For most normal pregnancies with no extenuating circumstances, doctors will tell you that you should not come to the hospital until contractions are 5 minutes apart for an hour.

However, you or the expectant mother should personally check with her doctor to make sure they agree with this estimate. There may be concerns which may cause them to increase or decrease this estimate. Other considerations include how far you live from where you will be delivering, i.e., can you get there quickly if you wait too long, or should you leave sooner if you live far away.

Another big consideration is that if your partner is admitted with false labor, your health insurance company will charge you a co-pay or deductible for the false start as well as the real thing. Depending on your insurance, this will be hundreds of dollars, if not over a thousand. If you don't have health insurance, it could cost you more out of pocket. So make sure you check with you doctor first and do some investigating into the policies of the hospital and the insurance company.