Save 15% on diapers with a 'subscription' from Amazon

When I sat down and calculated how much money I spend a month on diapers, I wondered if having my son poop onto a pile of $1's might be a cheaper alternative. In a previous post about the monthly expenses associated with a newborn, I estimated that disposable diapers set you back about $100 per month; approximately 390 diapers a month at $.25 a piece.

While it's something for which I budgeted, it just seems expensive to me for perfoming a basic bodily function. Kids do use fewer diapers as they get older, but guess what. Diapers get more expensive per piece as they increase in size. My son is built like a defensive tackle and, at less than 2 years old, is in size 7 Pampers Cruisers which average about $.45 a piece.

This size diaper isn't widely sold in our area so I started looking for an online source, which is when I chanced upon Amazon's fantastic offering. I looked around but couldn't find a deal that was even close.

First off, shipping is free on diapers from Amazon, which goes a long way towards not buying them in a store. If we don't have to lug around big boxes, all the better.

Second, Amazon offers a "subscription" service on certain items that will send you that product at a regular interval of your choice. The best part is, you save 15% on on those items to which you subscribe; diapers included.

Free shipping + Saving 15% = No brainer

Personally I like this concept because I don't have to worry about forgetting something at the store. I just know they're going to show up. You can cancel or change (increase or decrease) the subscription at any point, so there's very little risk.

The subscription isn't available on all diaper offerings, but as you mouse-over the various sizes and quantites, you'll see a message stating which are available for the subscription savings. The subscription option is available for Pampers Swaddlers and the larger Pampers Cruisers offering. I only wish I had found this sooner, but am glad I know about this in time for baby #2.

Maggie Maternity, a savior for maternity wear buyers

I've written previously about how difficult it is to buy maternity clothes for a pregnant woman, stating the dangers inherent to the giver of such a gift. One rogue decision on sizing and she could either explode at you (too big: "How big do you think I am?") or implode in tears (too small: "I'm getting huge!"). It is a challenge for men to buy clothing for women when their bodies are not undergoing a myriad of changes, but throw in altered physical appearance and a limited selection of styles and you're setting yourself up for gift giving failure.

As difficult as it is to find something fashionable in the realm of maternity clothing, it's equally difficult to find something that is well made and fits well. A standard, ill-fitting maternity smock won't cut it for women in professional environments, nor will it make the expectant mother feel good about herself either. (If you pick nothing else up from this blog, note this: it is paramount that you make expectant mothers feel good about themselves.)

This puts expectant fathers at a distinct disadvantage; buy nothing and you look like you don't care, buy the wrong thing and you may fall flat on your face.

Finally, there is a solution in the form of Maggie Maternity clothing. Not only does it make it easy for a guy to buy clothing for an expectant woman, it's something she actually wants! For the first time in either of my wife's two pregnancies, she has clothing that makes her feel good about herself and that she didn't have to describe using the adjectives "tent", "scratchy" or "cheap". My wife called me at work when it arrived in the mail and exclaimed "It's fantastic!"

When I got home I realized why she was so excited, she looked absolutely beautiful in her new clothes. They're simple, classic and elegant and make her look more like she's going into a restaurant than into labor. I asked my wife what she liked about the pieces and she began to ramble off quite a few. I only typed fast enough to catch some sentence fragments, but they paint a clear picture:

  • ... comfortable, easy to wear, versatile....
  • ... mix and match, easy to incorporate with other styles and pieces...
  • ... something, something, easy care, something, something, lay flat to dry...
  • ... a nice change style wise because everything else is empire waisted and it's nice to have one nice fluid silhouette from top to bottom, not just a uni-boob or boob shelf and a belly.
  • ... there is an elastic quality to it that stretches to fit a body but isn't clingy at all. It's great because the combination of the material and the side ruching grows with you. It doesn't make you look too large early on and is flattering throughout the entire pregnancy.

  • While the clothes themselves solve the issue of what an expectant mother would want, the website itself does a great job of helping you select appropriate sizing, providing style tips and suggesting predefined clothing combos. I got the four piece Classic Maggie Box for my wife which includes two tops, a skirt and pants, all of which she loves. My wife is about 6 feet tall and they even have long sizes to accommodate.

    For those of you looking to buy maternity wear, expecting father or mother, I'd highly recommend Maggie Maternity.

    The good folks at Maggie Maternity were kind enough to extend a discount coupon good for 20% off of any full-price merchandise through the end of August, 2009. (Excludes sale items and boxes).

    Enter the code Aug20 on the shopping cart page to redeem the discount. (It's never to early to think about the holidays!)

    Fetuses may have memories, make them good ones

    I've always advocated that fathers should talk to their partner's pregnant belly. I practiced this extensively with our first child, carrying on daily monologues next to my wife's baby bump. Moments after my son was born I spoke to him and he instantly quieted and looked up at me. The reaction was significant enough that the nurses and doctor commented on it and asked if I had been talking to him all along. That brief moment made the months of mindless belly banter worthwhile.

    Aside from my experience, there is new evidence that 30-week-old fetuses are able to "store information and retrieve it four weeks later." The study tested fetal reaction to acoustic stimulation and noted differences between groups which had and had not previously experienced the stimulation, signifying their memory of the stimulus.

    In my non-scientific summation and application of this information, a fetus can learn the sound of its father's voice. It's a great way for both the father and the fetus to bond and, by experience, has a calming effect on a new born baby. Studies have shown that reactive listening can occur as early as 16 weeks gestational age, so talk soon and talk often.

    An Alternative Drink for Pregnant Women with Gestational Diabetes

    Most pregnant women will tell you that their taste buds aren't the same as they were pre-pregnancy. I've heard many times that the taste of water, and even an expectant mother's own saliva, can make her feel sick. Ginger ale drink is quite adept at settling an uncertain tummy, but the sugar content puts if off limits for women with gestational diabetes.

    An 8 oz serving of most ginger ales has about 22 grams of sugars, or about 8% of your recommended daily intake. This adds up quickly with multiple servings and is a definite no-no for pregnant women suffering from gestational diabetes who must watch their dietary intake like a hawk.

    Poland Spring Sparkling Water Lime Essence

    If your partner is one of these unlucky women who has been placed on a restricted diet, yet can't stand water, a fantastic alternative is a naturally flavored sparkling water.
    My wife loves the Poland Spring lime essence sparkling water; it tastes great and isn't overly flavored, has 0 grams of sugars and isn't loaded with suspect ingredients. Polar (if it's available in your area) has a similar offering and it's usually less expensive as well.

    I actually really like the taste myself, which is good considering my fridge is now crammed with the stuff. Poland Spring has 4 flavor offerings as well as an original sparkling water. I'm sure other brands have similar offerings, just check the nutritional label to make sure there isn't any added sugar or artificial ingredients.

    So expectant dads, why am I telling you this?It's your job to take care of her and help her feel better. Bringing home a feel-better alternative shows that you're thoughtful, you care about her comfort and her health. By proxy, this also shows that you care about your unborn child's health. Just remember to buy the plastic bottles; she's hormonal and may end up throwing them at you if she doesn't like the taste.

    10 Ways To Help Pregnant Women Feel Better

    Direct from the Almost A Dad reader survey, here's a list of 10 tried and true ways to help pregnant women feel better, physically and/or emotionally.

    1. Back rub / foot massages. This topped the list as AaD reader's favorite way to help their pregnant partners feel better. Pregnant women are often sore and uncomfortable due to increased weight, dietary changes and the fatigue that comes with growing a baby. A massage is a fantastic way to help ease the tension in her neck, back and shoulders. Have her sit on a pillow or lay on her side to make sure she is comfortable and relaxed.

    2. Ginger ale. A good old fashioned favorite, ginger has a settling effect on the stomach and can be served in a few different ways. If ingested for an upset tummy or nausea, serve warm and flat. If it just hits the spot, serve cold. Mix with cranberry juice and ice for a refreshing treat and some good vitamins.

    3. Time alone / Time to relax. This cuts both ways so be careful; you don't want to leave her alone too long, but you don't want to smother her either. She is tired, hormonal and may need some time to think about all the upcoming changes in her life.

    4. Certain foods. Food can be friend or foe to a pregnant woman depending on mood, trimester, health and a host of other factors. Find out what your pregnant partner likes and stock up so she can have it at a moment's notice. Try and find healthy snacks if your partner is at risk of gestational diabetes. Just be prepared that she will suddenly hate what she loved yesterday.

    5. Talking. Pregnancy can be as confusing and scary as it is exciting. Pregnant women go through so many physical changes, which says nothing for all of the emotional and even logistical changes you both with encounter. In the face of such a massive life event is helps to have someone to talk to. Give her an attentive ear and share some feelings of your own.

    6. Attention / Compliments. Attention and compliments do well even when she's not pregnant. Spend time with her and tell her how beautiful she is and what an amazing mother you think she'll be.

    7. Helping her out as much as possible, tasks, chores. Household responsibilities shift during pregnancy, there's no way of getting around it. Expectant mothers tire quickly (physically and emotionally) and often feel poorly a fair percentage of the time. Start by transitioning the chores that involve any lifting or physical exertion. Branch out into the niceties that make it easier for her to relax like some extra cleaning or picking up. Remember that a pregnant woman should never change the cat box.

    8. Constant apologies, whether right or wrong. While I don't think you need to become a whipping boy, taking a lighter tack towards proving a point and avoiding conflict with an hormonally charged woman isn't the worst approach in the world.

    9. Letting her have her way all the time. I personally disagree with this to some extent, however it came up quite a bit. Like #8, I think that softening your approach and being accomodating is important, but if you totally bow down to every ridiculous whim you may find yourself ready to snap by the end of the pregnancy. It's about balance and understanding that her circumstance is effecting her emotionally. With that in mind, cater to her as much as you can, but preserve your own sanity as you go.

    10. Playing it by ear. One reader who seems to have a good handle on what can be a volatile situation wrote "I find that just playing it by ear is best. If she clearly needs space, I give it. If she clearly needs a hug, I give it. If she clearly needs onion rings at midnight, I go out and find them."

    And a bonus...

    11. Exorcism... because sometimes it's safest to get out of the house for a couple of hours.

    How long does a pregnancy last?

    The length of a pregnancy may sound like a basic question, but one worth asking as there is often some confusion around it.

    The length of a typical pregnancy is approximately:
    - 38 weeks from time of conception
    - 40 weeks from last menstrual period (or LMP as some call it)

    Why are there two different lengths? 

    Doctors use the LMP date as it is often the most solid point of reference. Many people don't know the actual date of conception, so the LMP allows for consistent comparisons from person to person amond medical professionals. The 38 week timeline is often referred to as the gestational age.

    I thought a pregnancy was 9 months long? Isn't 9 months 36 weeks?

    Well, it is 9 months, but the average month is 4.3 weeks long, not 4.
    - (52 weeks / 12 months = 4.333 weeks per month.)  
    - 4.333 weeks x 9 months = 38.99 weeks
    So 9 months is just about the average of the 38 and 40 week numbers.
     To sum up, doctors talk about pregnancy on a 40 week timeline, the actual gestational time is about 38 weeks. All the being said, there are some variances in baby due date accuracy.

    How accurate are home pregnancy tests?

    Now that you have (or have not) seen a couple of blue lines on a home pregnancy test, you may be asking yourself just how accurate are pee-on-a-stick home pregnancy tests, anyway? 

    For those of you who are flipping out right now and can't really focus, read the bulleted items below. For those of you who can concentrate, continue reading below for more of an explanation.

    1. Most pregnancy tests claim to be 99%+ accurate.

    2. Pregnancy tests should be taken in the morning, with the day's first urination. hCG,  the marker detected in home pregnancy test is most concentrated in the urine at that point, increasing the likelihood for an accurate result.

    3. Take at least two home pregnancy tests several days apart. You're most likely to get an accurate result over the course of two or three tests spaced several days apart. This will help eliminate false negatives due to low hCG levels, and false positives due to faulty tests, improper use or other factors.

    4. The longer you wait to take a test, the more likely it will be accurate. Aim for 1 week after a missed period. Again, hCG levels are more likely to be at sufficiently detectable levels in the case of pregnancy.

    5. False negatives are more common than false positives. You're more likely to be told you're not pregnant when you really are, but false positives are also possible due to a number of factors.

    So for some more explanation.

    Home pregnancy test work by detecting hCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) in a woman's urine.  hCH is a "glyco protein hormone made by the developing embryo soon after conception," so its presence is a good way of detecting pregnancy. The tests are essentially dumb, all they can do is measure hCG and turn a color.

    The answer on most boxes is that they are 97% -99%+ accurate. I am skeptical of this as that 99% claim is based on a lab trials, not on aggregate real world use.  False negatives are more common than false positives, but both are possible due to a number of factors. 

    Knowing that, it is essential to take the test at the proper time to optimize your results. (See # 2, 3, 4 above.) Some tests claim to determine pregnancy even before a woman has missed her first period. While this may be true, I would argue that one is more likely to have a false-negative (the test says you're not pregnant when you actually are) if taken very early as hCG levels are still very low at that point.   hCG levels increase rapidly in pregnant women, roughly doubling every couple of days. With that in mind, it makes sense that the longer you wait to take a home pregnancy test, the more likely you are to have an accurate result. 

    I know that it is often incredibly difficult to wait that long to find out, so if you do take an early test you should follow up with at least one more in another few days.

    Always follow the instructions on the box exactly, and good luck whatever the result.