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A Mediaplanet Guide to Family Home, Health, and Wellness

Family at Home

Kelly Sawyer Patricof & Norah Weinstein

How the co-CEOs of Baby2Baby are providing more than 50 million essential items to families during the pandemic

How ACUTE is helping people overcome severe eating disorders

DECEMBER 2020 | MODERNWELLNESSGUIDE.COM

Scott McGillivray shares tips to find the right flooring for your home

What military families can do to take control of their finances

An Independent Supplement by Mediaplanet to USA Today


Learn more about how to address racism and its impact on adolescent health during the COVID-19 pandemic. PAGE 4

Discover practical tips for military families navigating their finances during this pandemic. PAGE 8

TV Host Nancy O’Dell Gives Advice on Parenting Priorities Television host and entertainment journalist Nancy O’Dell shares her advice on balancing motherhood and a thriving career.

PHOTO: LEANNE MAGNAYE

IN THIS ISSUE

What was the best advice on motherhood that you have received? Find out what to expect after you bring your newborn baby home from the hospital for the first time. PAGE 21

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Country star Hunter Hayes talks about the importance of mental health.

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The best advice I have ever received is to make your child feel like they are the most loved child in the world. This is advice that was not spoken to me, but rather demonstrated by my parents. I always knew my parents would be there for me for anything and everything I could ever need. Some people think to always be there for your child will make them too dependent, but it’s actually the opposite. It creates a beautiful and strong independence. Your parents should be your team, your army, your cheerleaders, and your supporters who will love you no matter what. My parents demonstrated this by being there and being involved. I felt like I could talk with my mom about anything, and I knew she would have @MPMODERNWELLNESSGUIDE

my back always. If I needed help understanding homework, my mom and dad always had time. They never missed my events unless it was an emergency or some crazy circumstance. I’ll never forget my Dad actually crying because he was in the ICU on the night of my high school graduation. He told me, “You worked so hard to be valedictorian, and now I can’t be there because I’m in the hospital.” He wound up hiring a videotaping company so he could watch it. How would you describe your parenting style?  I would describe myself as a very present parent. I want to be at all of my daughter’s sporting events. I can remember one of her soccer games falling on the day of the Grammys. I hated that, but I still made the first half and then ran off to get into a gown. I

just want to make sure she knows she is beyond loved, and that her mom is always here for her. What element of being a working mom surprised you the most? It’s true what they say that there is no other love quite like the love for your child. I did not realize how much I would miss my daughter when I was at work. I always say, coming home to her is like medicine. When I come home from work and she runs to give me a hug, it makes any troubles or frustrations of the day disappear.    How has working in the entertainment industry impacted your views on parenthood? It has actually made my views on parenthood even stronger. There is nothing as an employee that bothers me more than a boss who thinks work is more important than family. And there are a lot of people in this industry who seem to discount the importance of family. I always say if your employees feel happy about their home life and work/life balance, then they are better employees who will be more productive.   How did you cope with “mommy guilt” while away and working? I would always try and figure out a way to do all the normal mom stuff. I have always wanted to be the one to take my daughter to school, and if I had an early taping and had to miss that, I would feel so guilty. So I figured out a way to get my hair and makeup done ahead of time at home, take my daughter to school, and then go in to work to tape the show. When my daughter was in kindergarten, I would even go to school in curlers. That way, when I arrived at the studio, my hair was already set. n

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Young People Are Suffering During This Pandemic It has been more than six months since COVID-19 completely changed the world. Recent surveys have shown that young people are being hit hard. Young people’s lives are dramatically different with virtual classes, social distancing, and the stress of getting sick or losing a loved one to the virus.

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any students have moved from sitting in a classroom to sitting at home alone for hours. They sit in front of a laptop, having to keep themselves on task, sometimes without adults at home to offer support and help them focus. Months out of the classroom and in some form of social isolation has kept students from interacting with friends and peers. It’s important that we address how these changes and stressors are affecting the mental health of students. Now more than ever, we must offer support and guidance to young people. Be there to listen Let the teens in your life know you’re there with an open mind for them to share anything

they might be feeling without judgement. Only give advice if they ask you for it — sometimes, they may just want someone to listen. Just remember that you don’t have to be their parent or guardian to support their mental health. Teachers, coaches, and extended family members can offer invaluable support as well. Learn the warning signs If you’re noticing changes in a young person’s behavior, talk to them about it. You might notice a drastic change in their mood, behavior, personality, or sleep habits. If you feel they may be experiencing a mental health condition, it is essential to help them get the care they need. There are several ways to improve the virtual classroom experience for your child. You can: Work with them to plan, •  write, and display a schedule

so you’re both on the same page about what each day will look like. • Create a designated space for schoolwork, which helps with concentration and productivity. • Coordinate a virtual study group with peers so they connect over video to work together on assignments and share skills. In such a challenging world, we need to make sure teens understand they’re not alone. We’re all experiencing the challenges of COVID-19, and when we open up about it and let young people know they aren’t the only ones struggling, it can help them find the strength to speak up and ask for help when they need it. n Jennifer Rothman, Senior Manager of Youth & Young Adult Initiatives, NAMI

Are the Pressures of the Pandemic Affecting Your Teen? According to a recent survey, 60 percent of young adults are struggling with anxiety and depression during the pandemic. Calls to teen suicide hotlines are rising, but unless parents know the warning signs, they may not know their child needs help. Signs of strain among teens were evident before the pandemic, especially among girls. A JAMA study revealed the percentage of teen girls who considered attempting suicide rose from 18.7 percent to 22.1 percent over the past 10 years. Even more startling is that the ways in which teen girls commit suicide have become more violent and more likely to result in death on the first attempt. Now, as another COVID-19 surge threatens to upend holidays and keep teens from friends and family, mental health professionals are concerned that long periods of isolation combined with the start of winter could be more than some teens can bear. Parents should be aware of how their teenagers are faring and whether outside support may be needed. Know the signs We’re only nine months into the pandemic, and experts say even if a vaccine becomes available, it may be another 18-24 months before it is ready for use. Adults are steeling themselves for the possibility that schools will return to an all-virtual format if infection rates continue to rise. Many are also experiencing “crisis fatigue,” leaving them emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. Teens experience the stresses of the pandemic even more acutely than adults. The loss of social connectedness is one of the more painful experiences teens may face during the pandemic, but it shouldn’t feel insurmountable. When parents educate themselves on the signs of emotional distress in their children and have the resources to get help, they equip themselves to provide the right support for their children at the right time.

Shareh Ghani, M.D., Vice President and Medical Director, Magellan Healthcare

America’s most experienced and only independent managed behavioral health care organization

MEDIAPLANET | TEEN MENTAL HEALTH

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The Impact of Racism on Adolescent Health and Safety Addressing racism and its central role in driving health disparities is essential to improving adolescent health and well-being. The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted and exacerbated the impact of racism on adolescent health. Longstanding health and social inequities have placed underrepresented minority youth at greater risk for COVID-19 infection, severe illness, and death. Factors that contribute to these disparities include a higher risk of underlying health conditions, crowded living conditions — which make social distancing more challenging — employment in the service industry or as an essential worker, more use of public transporta-

tion, poorer access to healthcare, and the stress response to racism. Racism is a pervasive reality globally and in the United States, and it has profound and destructive effects on adolescent health and well-being, as noted in recent papers published by the Society of Adolescent Health and Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Racism is comprised of prejudice, stereotypes, and discrimination, and is a core social determinant of health that has far-reaching effects on adolescent health and well-being. Widespread disparities All levels of racism — institutionalized, personally mediated, and internalized — drive

disparities in health outcomes. Experiences of discrimination lead to internalized negative stereotypes that preclude the development of a positive self-identity and may lead to depression, anxiety, and suicide during adolescence. Discrimination leads to chronic stress responses that drive disparities in health conditions, such as hypertension. Disproportionate incarceration of Black youth has detrimental effects on their future economic security, health, and well-being. Violence perpetuated against people of color, especially Black men and transgender women, leads to mental health disorders and death. Systemic inequities and discrimination in school settings reduce the opportunity

for academic achievement and lead to harmful effects due to excessive discipline and suspensions. Steps toward progress The first step in reducing the negative impact of racism on adolescent health and safety is committing to work that promotes justice, inclusiveness, equity, and respect for all individuals. As individuals, we can hold ourselves and others accountable for identifying and addressing racism in all its forms. White people can seek to understand the experiences of people of color with humility and recognize that the legacies of the United States’ racial injustices continue to privilege us today.

Another important step is to train our clinicians to respond to youth experiences of racism. Research is needed to develop interventions to prevent racism’s negative effects in clinical settings, schools, and juvenile justice settings, as well as determine the best ways of implementing these interventions widely. Actively and intentionally using anti-racism approaches to address racism and its fundamental role in driving health disparities will be essential to meaningfully improving adolescent health and well-being. n

Jessica Kahn, M.D., MPH, President, Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine

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Life-Saving Specialty Medical Care Helping People with Severe Eating Disorders

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ccording to the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA) eating disorders are one of the deadliest mental health conditions, second only to opioid overdose. And among adolescents, anorexia is the third most common chronic illness after asthma and obesity. Eating disorders can be severe and extreme, with psychiatric and medical complications requiring immediate attention. Even in young people who are relatively new to their eating disorder, getting help can be a matter of life or death. “There’s a small group that have extreme forms of eating disorders, both bulimia and anorexia, who [are] at major risk of dying if they don’t get 4

urgent specialized treatment,” says Dr. Philip S. Mehler, founder and chief executive officer at the ACUTE Center for Eating Disorders at Denver Health, a 30-bed medical telemetry unit treating patients with the most severe eating disorders. “That’s what ACUTE provides, and that’s why we have an air ambulance service that can get them there within 24 hours. ACUTE is basically a medical intensive care unit specifically for patients with severe eating disorders.” Going to an emergency room or residential treatment center (RTC) is not the solution for someone who has medical instability from an extreme eating disorder. That’s because people with extreme eating

disorders need dire help. Last year alone, 10 patients with scheduled admissions to ACUTE died from their medical issues as their families were in the final stages of arranging travel to Denver. ACUTE treats people of all genders ages 15+. Its expert and renowned medical treatment helps patients alleviate or avoid medical complications of eating disorders, safely begins the refeeding process, provides mental health support, and prepares the individual to seek further treatment at an RTC after they medically stabilize. “Safe weight restoration is the key to helping a patient with anorexia,” says Dr. Mehler, noting that ACUTE can administer any type of nutrition

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necessary, including oral, tube, and intravenous feeding. “For bulimia, we stabilize electrolytes that can become critically abnormal from self-induced vomiting and laxative abuse.” Patients receive around-theclock care from expert doctors and nurses, as well as a multidisciplinary team including occupational therapy, physical therapy, psychology, psychiatry, and dietary. This comprehensive approach addresses the individual’s physical and behavioral recovery needs. People with extreme eating disorders come to ACUTE to survive. “The vast majority of our patients, because they’re so ill and they’re flirting with death, are very appreciative of how

much better they feel following expert medical care,” says Dr. Mehler. “[From ACUTE], they step down to the next level of treatment in a better place to pursue a complete and sustained recovery.” n Kristen Castillo

ACUTE offers free evaluations for patients, families, and healthcare providers: www.denverhealth.org/ services/acute-centerfor-eating-disorders


How Parents and Caregivers Can Protect the Mental Health of College Students During a Global Pandemic As many college campuses across the country have switched to a fully online experience, many students are continuing their studies while back home with their families. This means that college students have lost access to resources and a culture of caring that hundreds of colleges and universities across the nation have created to support student well-being and mental health.

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nfortunately, the mental health of college students has only gotten worse over the last several months. A recent report by Active Minds identified that about 25 percent of students surveyed said that their depression significantly increased during the pandemic. In response, many schools are working to adapt their mental health and suicide prevention approaches to ensure they have comprehensive mental health safety nets to help support students. But the question is, how do you transfer a system that works on college campuses to a home environment? Let’s start with the research. Data show that

supportive relationships and feelings of connectedness are protective factors that can help improve mental health and lower risk for suicide. Now that many students are back at home, families, caregivers, and friends can implement these tips at home to support students during this difficult time.

that supports their academic success, while also preserving core relationships with friends and others they care about and rely on. It can also be helpful to establish regular patterns related to exercise, healthy eating, and sleep since these have a powerful influence on mental health.

Developing life skills Invite your children to learn how to cook a new dish with you or ask them to participate in other activities that both strengthen connection with you and strengthen their ability to live independently and manage unexpected change in healthy ways. Help them to organize their space and schedule so that they can create a routine

Encourage social connection Family, friends, and peers can first notice a distressed college-aged child and their need to be connected with professional help. It’s more difficult to notice when one is experiencing extreme anxiety or distress if they are also isolated. Check in with your young adult and encourage them to stay connected to

others. Set regular times to talk or have meals together. Normally in times of emotional distress, many college students report that they would reach out to campus professionals such as counselors, professors, and academic advisors, as well as to friends and classmates. Assure them that they can come to you for support if they are feeling overwhelmed. We understand that cohabitation can be difficult for the entire family, and a virtual support system, such as Crisis Text Line or TalkSpace, can be helpful. Parents should be aware of local resources, if accessible and affordable. Many campuses have moved their support systems to online platforms that stu-

dents can still access. Encourage students to review their school’s resource web pages/ communications and ask for help from their faculty and campus professionals. For many, the campus support systems they relied on are no longer in proximity. The uncertainty of knowing when things will go back to normal has understandably taken a toll on the mental health of college students amidst this global pandemic. The good news is that parents, caregivers, friends, and peers can implement these evidenced-based recommendations to provide young adults with the support they need to thrive and succeed. n John MacPhee, Executive Director and CEO, The Jed Foundation

MEDIAPLANET | TEEN MENTAL HEALTH

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Expert Tips for First-Time Homebuyers During COVID-19

What are your top tips or steps for prospective homeowners? Mark A. Jones: Buying a home can be a daunting task — especially if you’re doing it for the first time. Don’t think that you have to go at it alone. Find yourself a trusted loan advisor that knows your market well, and has the heart of a teacher, rather than a salesperson. Dave N. Gahm: Home ownership is an incredible opportunity to establish financial security and build wealth for your family, and with interest rates currently at all-time lows, now is a great time to buy. That said, don’t feel like you need to rush it. The Federal Reserve has signaled that it intends to keep rates low for quite some time. Find a trusted advisor who can prequalify you, get you ready, and help you determine the right time to pull the trigger. What trends do you think first-time homebuyers should be watching for? MJ: For most people, the highest barrier to homeownership is down payment requirements. However, a number of federal programs partner with lenders like Amerifirst to facilitate down payments as low as zero percent. There are also a variety of state and local down payment assistance programs that you might be able to access to bridge the gap. Some of these are specifically targeted at first-time home buyers. At the federal level, we expect the incoming Biden administration to continue to 6

Mark A. Jones CEO and Co-Founder, Amerifirst Home Mortgage

encourage these types of incentives. For many families, these programs can be the difference between renting and owning. DG: For many years, there has been a significant shortage of housing inventory, especially at the starter home and entry-level price point. The gap between the demand for these homes and the number being built increases by the tens of thousands each year. We don’t see this correcting itself anytime soon — in fact, it has turned markedly for the worse in 2020. At any price point, there are 20 percent fewer houses for sale now than there were at this time last year. What does providing a dependable and reliable path to first-time homeowners mean to you? How does your team aim to incorporate this mission into every partnership? MJ: We are dependable and reliable because we’ve been around the block a few times. We’ve seen many market cycles — both up and down. Back in 2008, when the rest of the mortgage industry took the economy down with irresponsible and often predatory practices, we were one of the few lenders with the good sense to stay out of it. When the smoke cleared, we

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David N. Gahm CEO and Co-Founder, Amerifirst Home Mortgage

They are also saddled with far more debt, on average, and have chosen to delay household formation. We are continuing to adapt, as are many other lenders, to the way many millennials prefer to conduct business — online, on an app, or on their mobile device.

were one of the only companies that survived. We have proven staying power because we’ve always put our customers first, and our customers know we’re truly on their side.

What trends have you seen emerge in the mortgage industry during the COVID-19 pandemic?

DG: For 35 years, we’ve always been focused on doing business the right way. To us, that means making good loans, providing high-touch service, pairing our customers with loan advisors that know their market, understand their long-term plans and take a personal interest in them, and exceeding our customers’ expectations for speed and execution.

MJ: While we typically concentrate on home purchases, COVID-19 has driven down interest rates to historic lows, and many, many existing homeowners have been able to refinance their loans. If you are already a homeowner, a refinance could be a great opportunity to help endure the economic fallout from COVID-19, either through significantly lowering your monthly payment or tapping into the equity in your home.

What key changes have you witnessed in the homeowner industry in the past five years? MJ: Hispanic families are a rapidly growing share of the homeownership market, especially in many of the places where we do business. By 2030, Hispanics will account for 56 percent of new homeownership gains. It’s a change we are leaning into as a company. DG: We’re also following the millennial demographic very closely. They are a rapidly growing segment of the homeownership market, but they still tend to remain renters for longer periods than their parents before them.

DG: The mortgage industry has been a rare bright spot this year in an economy that’s been brutal for so many folks. This is largely because interest rates have fallen to historic lows. We have certainly been blessed. And because of that, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to give back more than ever before and help some of those who haven’t been as fortunate. We’ve volunteered, we’ve provided direct financial assistance, and we’ve helped many of our existing customers to restructure or hit the pause button on their mortgage. I hope that others in the industry are stepping up to the plate as well. n


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What You Need to Know When Buying a Home for the First Time First-time homebuyers shouldn’t wait to get started on buying a home.

Interest rates are at historic lows,” says Mark A. Jones, co-CEO of Amerifirst Home Mortgage. “If you can find that right property, it’s an outstanding time to buy because affordability is also at an all-time high.” Right now, it’s a seller’s market, with limited inventory and multiple prospective buyers bidding on the same property. He cautions buyers not to wait to get in the market because interest rates and property values may go up. “For every quarter percent increase in interest rate, you’re going to lose purchasing power,” says Jones. “You’re going to lose appreciation if you don’t act now.” Move-in opportunities The pandemic has changed the housing market. “It’s actually pushed a lot of people from the heavily urban areas, out into the suburbs,” says Jones, who co-founded Amerifirst Home Mortgage in 1983 with David Gahm. “They want

more space, they want larger homes, and more property around them. People are fleeing a lot of the urban centers to get out to the suburbs.” Properties in rural areas are a great move-in opportunity for firsttime buyers. “If you’re buying your first home, you’ll find some of your most attractive financing in rural areas,” he says, explaining that the USDA has a zero down payment program for those who qualify. While the properties need to be in specific rural areas, it’s not just farm country. In Michigan for example, Amerifirst is the No. 1 USDA lender in the state. Getting started According to a 2020 National Association of Realtors (NAR) Home Buyers and Sellers Report, 81 percent of buyers said owning a home was a good financial investment. That report found 33 percent of all homebuyers were first-time buyers. But getting started can feel intimidating.

“If you’re buying your first home, find a lender that you trust and talk with them,” says Jones, who, with his team, is focused on helping firsttime homebuyers achieve the American dream. Many lenders like Amerifirst are full service, meaning they secure the loan and service it for the length of the loan. A lender can pull your credit report, review your income and down payment sources, and give you all your financing options, including explaining closing costs, contracts, and alternate funding like gift funds. Challenges Affordability is a significant concern for homebuyers. According to a survey of 1,000 millennials by industry data firm Clever Real Estate, 48 percent say saving for a down payment is their biggest barrier to buying a home; 31 percent report having too much debt, and 30 percent say bad credit impacts their ability to qualify for a mortgage. Jones says the biggest misconception about first-time home buying is

that you need 20 percent down to buy a home. But that’s not necessarily the case. For example, for a typical FHA mortgage, buyers only need 3 percent down, plus closing costs. Often buyers worry about their credit scores and debt ratios. “A lot of first-time homebuyers may have had a credit blemish that they think ruined their credit. But once you pull the credit report, you’ll find it dinged them a few points but it’s not something that’s going to prevent them from buying a home today,” says Jones. If a customer does have credit score problems, the lender can review their credit report with them and create a homeowner action plan to improve their scores and their chances of qualifying for a mortgage. n Kristen Castillo

Amerifirst has many resource guides on its website, including a first-time homebuyer’s guide: www.amerifirst.com/buy/firsthome MEDIAPLANET | HOMEOWNERS

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Property Brothers Offer Advice for First-Time Homeowners No one knows fixer-uppers better than Jonathan and Drew Scott, HGTV’s own Property Brothers, who recently sat down to offer advice on buying and renovating a home. What advice would you give to aspiring first-time homeowners ? Jonathan Scott: Don’t rush into it. Buying any home, especially your first home, is one of the biggest financial and emotional commitments you can make. Drew Scott: Plus, working with the right professionals, like real estate

agents and lenders you trust, can make the whole process a lot easier. What should you prioritize when considering buying a home? DS: Get to know the neighborhood and the neighbors, too. They can tell you a lot about the house you’re potentially buying. What key questions should people ask prior to buying a house? DS: Gather all the information you can. Also, visit the property at different times of the day or week to see if there are any issues that will affect the way you enjoy the place.

What tips or advice would you give to homeowners applying for mortgages or loans? DS: Be organized. Have a letter of income from your employer and know your debts and assets. Also, look to get pre-approved. What reports or inspections should new homeowners ask for to avoid hidden dangers? DS: Always get a full home inspection done, even if the house is newer, review the land survey to ensure there are no encroachments, and check the title will be clear.

What are some common red flags to look out for? JS: One red flag is when the homeowner says they did the work themselves. Look for artwork hanging in a strange position — it’s probably covering an issue. Lift area rugs to check the floors. Use all your senses. A musty smell can hint at poor airflow or warped walls, and fogged windows could potentially be a sign of a more serious issue, like a past grow-op. What tips do you have for someone seeking a home improvement contractor? JS: Do your due diligence. Don’t be afraid to ask to see examples of their past work. Always get their quote in writing. In most jurisdictions, contractors cannot ask for money up front unless they are bonded or affiliated with an organization like the National Association of Home Builders. n

3 Steps Military Families Can Take to Navigate Their Finances

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aking control of your finances during a worldwide pandemic does not have to be a daunting task. By prioritizing, planning, and taking a proactive approach to financial challenges, you can have peace of mind knowing that you are as financially prepared as possible during an uncertain time. Here are some practical tips to help you prepare: Prioritize your critical expenses While the moratorium on evictions has been extended until December 31, 2020, landlords can still place tenants on the hook for paying back rent once it has been lifted. Prioritizing expenses like housing, auto, and food ensures your family continues to have shelter, food, and a means to safely travel to work and school during and beyond the pandemic. Plan for the present and future While you can’t change what has 8

happened in the past, you can make a commitment to plan for today as well as what’s to come in the future. Create a spending plan. Take your most recent bank statement and categorize each expense incurred. Identify areas of high expenses and draft a plan to lower those expenses. For example, making a commitment to prepare food at home rather than using curbside pickup or delivery from restaurants can drastically lower food costs, allowing more funds free to allocate to other critical expenses. Pay yourself. By identifying areas where you can lower expenses, you can work toward setting aside money each month to allocate toward an emergency fund or build up savings for the future. Don’t overlook estate planning. Tomorrow is never promised and that is more evident now than ever before. Dedicate some time to start estate planning — draft a will along with a healthcare directive and durable power of attorney so you can rest

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easy knowing someone you trust will be in charge of your affairs should you become incapacitated or die. Be proactive If you find that you are not able to meet all monthly obligations, take action. Contact creditors to determine what options are available. You may be eligible for a deferred payment, a forbearance, or lower interest rates on your existing credit obligations. If you have lost employment, apply for unemployment income as soon as possible, if eligible. Reach out to as many recruiters as possible to let them know you are seeking continued employment in your field. Essential workers in healthcare, food, retail, warehouses, distribution centers, and delivery industries are careers that are in demand right now. While seeking employment, apply for temporary relief programs like SNAP, WIC, and TANF. Contact your child’s school to determine if they are eligible for a free

or reduced meal plan. Reach out to your local United Way by dialing 211 and inquiring about additional relief programs at the local level. Research nonprofit programs offering support. Active duty, deployed, veterans, or wounded, ill, or injured service members may be eligible for assistance from Operation Homefront’s Critical Financial Assistance Program. Visit Operation Homefront for more information. As you prioritize, plan, and develop a proactive approach to financial obstacles during a worldwide pandemic, it is important to remember that financial stressors can take a toll on mental health. Remember to prioritize selfcare by ensuring you are consuming a nutritious diet, staying active, and reaching out for help if you get too overwhelmed. n

Tonya Cooper, AFC®, Financial Counselor, Operation Homefront MEDIAPLANET


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TV Host Chip Wade on Saving Money During Home Renovations HGTV home renovator Chip Wade shares his expertise on renovation trends and explains why functionality beats aesthetics.

Evaluate your home Wade recommends starting with a space audit. “A space audit is a tabulation of how much time you spend in every room of the house,” Wade says. “If there’s a room you haven’t used in a number of days, it’s highly likely that room could be a spot for repurposing. These are often unorthodox rooms. Duplicate living rooms — where there is a formal living room and a less formal living room — are really common. Even additional bedrooms are a great source for things like a home gym.” When repurposing a room, Wade suggests starting small. “Buying the most expensive, all-in-one piece of home gym equipment maybe isn’t the smartest thing to do when you’re just setting out,” he says. Functions over aesthetics Wade’s philosophy is renovating for function over aesthetics, especially when considering kitchens and bath10

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rooms. “The thing is to understand what makes a difference for you in your space, and then spending most of your money on that. Making it look good is the easy part. But making it function so that you love it before making it look good is the part that most everyone skips over.” Wade sees people throwing money away on kitchens they’ll never use. “Everybody wants that look of the chef’s kitchen, but a lot of people don’t cook that much at the house,” Wade says. Another common waste of money is in cabinetry. “When buying incredibly expensive cabinetry and furniture, you’re basiIf there’s a cally going to be hogtied room you to it for the rest of your haven’t used in life,” he says. “Never deca number orate with cabinets. It’s of days, it’s the most expensive thing highly likely that you will ever do.” room could The best advice to be a spot for avoid these money-wastrepurposing. ing renovations is to work with a designer, Wade recommends. “People think they want to keep all the money set aside for a project for construction, and they don’t value the cost of not just design, but great design,” he says. “Great design should always end up paying for itself, and it should be cost evaluated prior to ever calling a contractor. If your first call is to a contractor, you’re losing. You need to have someone who understands the aesthetics, the architecture, and the construction at the inception.” n PHOTO: WADE WORKS CREATIVE

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his year, many families have been confined to their homes, and renovation trends have shifted to accommodate. Chip Wade, the television home renovator from the shows “Elbow Room” and “Wise Buys,” sees functional spaces like home gyms and offices becoming more popular, for instance. “These are gaining a lot more traction right now because there is an increasing need for families,” Wade said. “Families are getting a better sense of how they are using their space when they’re spending more time in it.”

Ross Elliott


How to Choose the Best Flooring for Your Lifestyle and Property Value

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ne of the foundational things to consider when undergoing a home renovation is flooring. Choosing the right flooring solution is a long-term investment for your home, as well as your property value. However, this decision doesn’t have to be too complicated. Scott McGillivray, home renovations expert and host of the TV shows “Income Property” and “Scott’s House Call,” says that the most stylish flooring isn’t always the best investment option. An important decision “Flooring has a huge impact on your home, both stylistically and in terms of resale value, so think long and hard about what’s best,” McGillivray says.

“The first piece of advice is to get the flooring that best suits your lifestyle, followed quickly by getting the best flooring your budget will allow.” The most popular flooring option is hardwood floors, but they don’t suit everyone’s budget. “‘Hardwood flooring throughout’ is the most common term in North American real estate listings, so that’s usually a safe bet, but it doesn’t come cheap,” McGillivray says. “Also, if you live in an area with high humidity or have concerns about scratches and stains from kids and pets, it might not be the flooring for you.” With that said, if it suits your budget and property, hardwood floors remain the best investment. “There are a lot of benefits that justify the high price of hardwood, the main one being longevity,”

PHOTO: RICHARD SIBBALD

Scott McGillivray, host of the web series “Scott’s House Call,” shares his expertise on how to pick the best flooring options for your home and budget.

McGillivray says. “It has a timeless quality that will last forever, and it can be sanded and refinished multiple times. This means the flooring can last as long as you own your home and then some. It’s also popular because it’s stronger and more durable than other types, and it tends to be better for indoor air quality.” Other alternatives There are other appealing options for home renovators as well. McGillivray recommends luxury vinyl plank as an excellent alternative. “If you had asked me 10 years ago, I might have had a different answer, but vinyl has come a very long way, and I’ve been using it a lot, especially in vacation properties,” he says. “It looks great, and it’s very durable. It’s especially great for areas that are

prone to flooding and water damage. It can go below grade and in bathrooms — places where you probably wouldn’t want to risk hardwood.” Luxury vinyl plank is also a great option for people working on their own home renovations, as it is very DIY-friendly. “If you’re up for tackling the installation yourself, you can save a lot of money,” McGillivray says. For homes catering to children and pets, McGillivray says to consider the durability of your floors. “If hardwood is what you want, consider an engineered hardwood,” McGillivray says. “It has a layer of real, solid hardwood on the top, with several layers of interlaced plywood or fiberboard on the bottom, the same materials that make up laminate floors. What this means is that you get the look and finish of true

hardwood, with the durability of a laminate. Then cover them with area rugs for extra protection from kid and pet damage.” Luxury vinyl plank is also a good alternative for homes with kids. “Vinyl will stand up very well to scratches and stains and is easy to clean,” McGillivray says. Home renovators might still be skeptical that vinyl flooring would be a good investment, but McGillivray says that vinyl has come a long way. “Vinyl floors used to be really thin, but rigid core vinyl is thicker and therefore more sturdy and comfortable underfoot,” he says. “They also tend to be quieter. They’re waterproof and easy to maintain, which makes them great for all kinds of homes and homeowners.” n Ross Elliott

MEDIAPLANET | HOME IMPROVEMENT

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New Smart Technology for Monitoring Your Baby’s Health Ask a grandparent what nursery accessories they used, and they’ll mention the basics: crib, changing table, and glider. Today’s parents have many more options with smart technology, but they need to know the products they’re buying are safe. Technology can never replace a human, but smart technology products can be a back-up option. Modern bassinet and swing technology can mimic a parent’s smooth rocking motion, monitor the baby’s crying, and soothe them with a mix of white noise and gentle vibration. As with any baby product, follow manufacturers’ instructions to make sure the product is used safely. New innovations Back in the day, monitors served

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health. Some provide daily activthe purpose of listening for baby ity suggestions designed specifito wake. Now, their capabilities are cally for your baby’s age and stage almost endless. Modern monitors to support gross motor, cognitive, can have high-definition live video speech, sensory, selfstreaming and also care, and social-emomeasure room temtional development. perature, air quality, Though smart and humidity. Some tech can be a helpful even track a baby’s .. the very resource and relieve breathing and heart best way stress, the very best rate so parents can parents learn way parents learn rest easy through the about their about their babies is night. If using a monbabies is by by paying attention itor with a cord, make paying attention and learning their sure it is out of the and learning small hints and cues. baby’s reach and at their small hints Take a break someleast three feet away. and cues. times from the technology to give your Apps for parents baby all the old-fashThere are also a variioned love and cudety of smartphone dles they need. n apps available to help as your baby grows from toddler to teen. Kelly Mariotti, Executive Director, There are apps to monitor feeding Juvenile Products Manufacturers times, diaper changes, and sleep Association (JPMA) MEDIAPLANET


Advice From Experts on Pregnancy Health, Baby Sleep, and Family Meals Dominique de Bourgknecht Founder, baby deedee

Ayesha Curry Celebrity Chef

Ash Rossi Founder, Tiny Human Food

Deborah Nowak, Ph.D. Founder, Post-Op Provisions

Amy Beckley, Ph.D. Founder, Proov

Amy Beacom, Ed.D. Founder and CEO, Center for Parental Leave Leadership

Experts give advice on making sure your baby is eating healthy foods and getting the right kind of sleep, as well as what soon-to-be parents can expect when pregnant during COVID-19.

What is one piece of advice you can give to parents and families on encouraging their children to eat more of fresh, healthy foods? Ayesha Curry: I always encourage parents to get their kids involved in the kitchen. It’s going to get messy and that’s okay, because when you let your kids help, they’re more likely to try the dishes they had a hand in making. My oldest daughter was gifted a set of child-safe kitchen knives, so I’ll set her up with a cutting board and let her chop away. This gives her a chance to touch, taste, and smell all sorts of fresh produce. I also find comfort in knowing that by allowing them to assist, I’m instilling kitchen confidence in them that can help them as they grow and start to make meals for themselves. 16

Do you incorporate any organic or vegan ingredients to your morning meals?

my kids each being so unique, the conversation could be about anything. I love that.

Curry: Buying organic foods is very important to my family due to the peace of mind that comes with knowing that my food doesn’t have any pesticides, fertilizers, or additives in them. My kids get packed organic fruit and vegetables every day. It’s probably their favorite thing to snack on at home or school.

In the past 5-10 years, how has modern technology changed the cooking process?

What’s the best thing about sitting down and enjoying breakfast with your family?

What does sleep coaching mean?

Curry: The best thing is knowing that I’m promoting healthy eating habits in my family. It’s our time to converse before we spend most of our day apart at school and work. And with

Curry: Cooking, whether at home or in a restaurant, is always evolving and changing. We have so many tools now that simplify cooking. Modern technology is a big part of that.

Dominique de Bourgknecht: Going to sleep can be a learned skill. By creating the right sleeping environment and learning your baby’s sleep cues, you can be their loving coach for learning the skills to fall asleep on their own.

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When is the best time to start sleep coaching? Bourgknecht: Most babies develop more predictable sleep patterns when they are 2-3 months old. This would be a great time to try to follow a nap schedule, which in turn promotes a consistent bedtime. I found that I was putting my son down for his naps after he was already over-tired, so I started timing the first nap for about two hours after he woke up and that seemed to help with the rest of the day.

more importantly, put herself back to sleep when she wakes during the night. For the majority of babies, this is a milestone that doesn’t happen immediately. I did notice that by the time I had my third baby, I often wasn’t able to rush to her the minute she started to fuss because I was taking care of the older kids. With my first born, I would pick him up the second I heard a sound. I wonder if those few extra minutes gave my daughter the chance to learn how to self-soothe. To this day, she is my best sleeper.

What does it mean to self-soothe and what are some techniques for selfsoothing?

What is the importance of nutrition within the first 1,000 days of a baby’s life?

Bourgknecht: Self-soothing is when baby can fall asleep without the caregiver and,

Ash Rossi: There aren’t words to express the importance of nutrition


within the first 1,000 days of a tiny human’s life. And that’s exactly what they are: tiny humans. Babies are so loved for the hope and joy that they bring. However, for far too long, their dietary needs have been overlooked, and the food offered was lacking all of the goodness necessary for optimal development. A baby’s brain will double in size in the first 12 months of life alone — this is the time to establish the foundation of lifelong health. What is one piece of advice you can give to parents and families trying to incorporate more fresh and healthy foods into their babies’ diet? Rossi: Incorporating fresh, healthy foods into a tiny human’s diet can be as simple as staying away from shelfstable offerings and instead, giving them delicious, coldpressed food. A baby’s palate is developing around four to seven months, and what you feed them at that time will help determine their lifelong relationship with food. When choosing cold-pressed options (a category segment that is growing with brands like Tiny Human Food®), you’re teaching your little one to fall in love with what fresh, healthy goodness tastes, smells, and looks like, while simultaneously giving them the nutrients that their growing bodies so desperately need. What advice would you give to parents looking to find a healthy work/home balance during the current stay-at-home orders?

Rossi: Be kind to yourself, and do your best to stay in each moment. I’d suggest that to any parent, but especially new parents who are seemingly hardwired to be hyper-critical of themselves. As someone who lives with three little ones who are all e-learning, this is a lesson I have taken a crash course in and am still in practice of. It isn’t easy, but it’s so very worth the peace that it brings. Amy Beckley: Don’t be afraid to ask your partner to watch the children while you take a drive, go for a walk, or even just go to another room for time alone. It is okay to take some time to decompress. Deborah Nowak: Don’t let time blend. Get dressed for work, try to keep a regular routine throughout the day, and be sure to make time for self-care. Keep exercising if you were before you got pregnant, eat on a regular schedule, sleep when you’re tired, and ask for help if you need it. Amy Beacom: Balance is bunk. Shift your perspective on what’s achievable, and take the pressure off. Sometimes, you’ll get a lot done for work, and other times you’ll need to focus on family. Both require creativity and flexibility. Start with open and upfront communication with your company with a goal of finding solutions together. Discuss limitations on schedule and attention. Ask for and accept help from your support system — your partner, family, neighbors, friends, religious community, etc. Needing support is

not a reflection on you. You are being asked to do the impossible. How has COVID-19 affected the average couple’s fertility journey? Beckley: COVID-19 has had a negative impact on many couples. From canceled treatments to limited in-person visits, to lost jobs and financial strain, the pandemic has made it more difficult for couples to get the help they may need. Nowak: It’s made it lonelier. Maintaining physical distance from friends and loved ones who would like to be involved is hard but necessary. It’s also changed the “nesting” process from wandering through stores picking out cute things to net surfing and delivery truck stalking. Can COVID-19 impact pregnancy or fetal health? Beckley: COVID-19 may make it take longer to conceive both because of lack of access to resources and support, and because the COVID-19 infection has been shown to alter hormone levels in some women. Additionally, pregnant women are at a slightly higher risk of showing symptoms of COVID-19 than non-pregnant women. The good news is that most mothers with COVID-19 do not pass it to their babies in utero. Nowak: According to the CDC and other sources, pregnant women are a little more likely to have a severe infection from COVID-19, and the virus can

slightly increase the likelihood of preterm birth. What are your hopes for the future regarding more family-friendly workplace environments? Beacom: The COVID-19 pandemic has made everyone realize that the caregiving struggles working-parents endure can be experienced by anyone. Everyone now understands that a family-friendly workplace is vital to our functioning economy. Like any major transition, 2020 offers an opportunity to reassess what and how work gets done. Workers can be hyper-productive when they know what needs doing and are able to control their schedules. I dream of better trained managers, the flexibility to work from home or office, and a generous federal paid leave policy like the FAMILY Act. How can pregnant women protect themselves and their babies during the pandemic? Beckley: Limiting contact with other people is the best defense. Ask if your doctor does virtual visits, get groceries delivered at home, work from home if possible, and try to avoid gathering with people outside of your household. Nowak: Social distancing, masks, hand washing, and staying home as much as possible are especially important for pregnant women. In addition, other household members need to remain vigilant about preventing exposure and iso-

lating if it happens anyway. Get into a routine so that efforts to avoid the virus just become part of your day. Will a COVID-19 infection affect fertility? Beckley: While we don’t know the long-term effects COVID-19 will have, there seems to be a short-term infertility associated with it. COVID-19 has been shown to alter estrogen and progesterone levels — hormones key to regulating the menstrual cycle and getting pregnant. Post-infection, some women have experienced long, irregular cycles, thus contributing to transient subfertility. How should companies support their expecting and new parents during COVID-19? Beacom: Especially during COVID-19, it is critical for companies to understand that their new parents are enduring intense pressure and isolation during what should be one of the most joyful (and complex) times in their personal and professional life. Communication is key. Reach out to offer help and talk through what they need to feel supported during this critical time. Don’t be afraid to ask about their emotional and mental health. Our training and leave resources — particularly our evidence-based self-assessment tool, the “Parental Leave Transition Assessment” — helps employees and their managers find creative solutions that are customized to each unique situation. n

MEDIAPLANET | JOURNEY TO PARENTHOOD

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The Benefits of Breastfeeding and Donating Breastmilk Before becoming a mom, I knew about the benefits of breastfeeding, but I didn’t know anything about donating breastmilk. It wasn’t until my newborn spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) that I learned about milk donation and became a donor. Being thrust into parenthood as a NICU mom was difficult, but the experience inspired me to give my extra breastmilk to other babies in need. Today, I am the proud parent of a healthy 10-year-old, balancing motherhood while at the helm of the Human Milk Banking Association of North America. Although breastfeeding is natural, it can still feel intimidating to first-time parents. Research shows countless benefits, including a stronger immune system for the baby and a faster recovery for the mom. Here are some tips to help: • Make a plan. Speak to your doctor about your desire to breastfeed and ask for support services at the hospital where you plan to deliver. • Consult with a pro. Contact a lactation consultant for practical advice on getting a good latch, positioning for optimal comfort, reading your baby’s cues, and more. • Phone a friend. Tap into the rich wisdom of family and friends who have breastfed their babies. Donating milk By donating your extra milk to a Human Milk Banking Association of North America milk bank, you can help save the lives of the most vulnerable infants. Contact your local milk bank to learn more about how donors are screened to ensure the safety of the milk. You can also reach out to the milk bank to receive milk if you do not have an adequate supply for your baby. COVID-19 and breastfeeding Let’s face it — parenting is hard work. During the COVID-19 pandemic, you might feel especially overwhelmed, isolated, and uncertain. However, breastfeeding protects your infant from illness and infections, making it as important as ever. In this challenging time, there are many tools dedicated to keeping you safe. At home, you can connect virtually with a professional lactation consultant or clinician. Your pediatrician can also share resources during in-person visits and through telemedicine. Throughout the pandemic and beyond, breastfeeding provides your baby the optimal first food. There are always multiple options to find help and support along the way. Lindsay Groff, MBA, Executive Director, Human Milk Banking Association of North America

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An Intergenerational Story About the Importance of Breastfeeding This is the story of Malikah Garner, a native of Detroit, who lacked support when trying to breastfeed her child. The interview unravels a system that has historically failed Black women and babies. Malikah, can you tell me about your experience with breastfeeding?

Was there any research you did about social support?

Nobody knew about breastfeeding in our family. I’m a first-generation college graduate. So I had access to different information and an expanded awareness. However, I didn’t know everything that was at play when I was pregnant. I didn’t know about health systems and historical trauma in our community. I just said, “OK, I’m going to breastfeed.” And I thought it was going to be that easy. We had latch issues at the [Detroit] hospital and there was not, at that time, a full or robust nursing (lactation) system.

My research was centered around me and the act of breastfeeding. I didn’t even realize the social or cultural piece until I got breastfeeding established, and I still felt very lonely. What’s going on here? I need some other Black women to connect with. People in my family were pushing back from me breastfeeding in public. I went to this private Facebook group for Black women who are breastfeeding. Someone recommended Black Mothers Breastfeeding Association (BMBFA). I went to a breastfeeding club and y’all haven’t been able to get rid of me yet.

Who was trying to encourage you? Family members. My mom and of course my husband. I got a [breast] pump. It was a mess. My nipples were cracking and bleeding. I could not take it anymore. And so we switched over to formula. Tell me about your next child: Aaron. I wanted to try [breastfeeding] again. I realized that it was more involved than what I had previously thought. I did a lot of research, took a breastfeeding class, and I chose a different hospital that was [designated] “baby-friendly” with a full lactation office. I felt like I was in a better place. When it came time to latch Aaron, I had the same problems with him that I had with Nolan. I [had] thought it was going to be different.

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Call for accountability Too often, it is the sheer will, self-advocacy and perseverance of a Black woman to individually overcome systemic barriers to breastfeeding success. There is too much at stake! Black babies are disproportionately born too small and too soon. Breastfeeding has been shown to help babies survive and thrive. No woman should be reliant upon her sole ability and willingness to fend for herself. We call for breastfeeding-friendly systems where the community voice is honored; policies, attitudes, and practices align to achieve racial equity in breastfeeding support; and maternal-child-health institutions and agents of institutions demonstrate accountability to the community for their acts and behaviors. n


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You plan the birth, you prepare to bring your baby home, but what about Mom? Try as we may to make childbirth less clinical, there’s no escaping that there will be fluids leaking from unusual places, swelling in not so fun spots, and a general screwing up of your body for weeks afterward. Let us help. Our Mom Bag is filled with postpartum supplies and all-natural comfort products you might not know you needed, aren’t likely to have, and may have trouble finding on your own. Mom Bag is also sustainably sourced and packaged.

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A force good for a voiceless population, Tiny Human Food® (created and run by a mom) produces the cleanest line of baby food on the market and is cold-pressed, organic, smallbatch, and absolutely scrumptious. We hold ourselves to the highest standards (as acknowledged by the Clean Label Project’s Purity Award we were given) and are committed to the exceptional development of tiny humans.  We also aim to come together with parents who are tasked with facilitating the whole life of tiny humans by making things as easy as possible, so we deliver right to your door.

Born out of the need for more sleep, the mom-invented baby deedee sleep nest is a wearable duvet baby sleep bag, designed for infants and toddlers aged 0-36 months. It replaces loose blankets in the crib ensuring a cozy and more restful night’s sleep for babies and parents. Its patented shoulder snap design enables you to place your sleeping baby in the sleep nest without waking her. The baby deedee sleep nest is made from high-quality Indian fabrics with an extra-quiet zipper for convenience and easy diaper changes. Available in a variety of weights for all climates.

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MEDIAPLANET | JOURNEY TO PARENTHOOD

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Expectant Parents Can Buy Devices to Monitor Their Baby’s Heartbeat at Home For expecting parents, the COVID-19 pandemic compounded the normal stresses of pregnancy in a wide variety of ways. Some doctors and midwives have found new ways to allow the monitoring of a baby’s health at home. Dagamma manufactures Baby Doppler Sonoline B, a device that monitors the fetal heartbeat at home using ultrasound technology. The device is simple to use. You apply a sound-enhancing gel to reduce static and rock the probe back and forth until you find the heartbeat. The expectant parent can then read the heartbeat, displayed in beats per minute, on the device’s screen. They can then share these numbers with a healthcare provider. Mithu Kuna, CEO and Founder of Baby Doppler, says it was actually a personal experience of his own that inspired the company to begin with. “When my wife was pregnant with our first child, there was decreased movement toward the end of the pregnancy, and absolutely no kicks,” he says. “But luckily, we were able to call our midwife, and the midwife came over with a similar device and was able to hear the heartbeat. She was able to quickly derive that [the baby had] an intermittent heartbeat, and [my wife] had to be induced to get him out right away.” Kuna says that the ability to check the heartbeat on their own might have been able to calm their worries or alert them to danger earlier. To learn more about Baby Doppler Sonoline B, visit https://www.babydoppler.com/. Lynne Daggett This has been paid for by Baby Doppler.

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Eczema — It’s More Than Just an Itch

E

czema is a group of skin conditions characterized by red, itchy, and inflamed skin. There are several types of eczema including contact dermatitis, dyshidrotic eczema, stasis dermatitis, nummular eczema, seborrheic dermatitis, and the most common, atopic dermatitis (AD). It is possible to have more than one type of eczema at once. The background The word “eczema” is derived from the Greek word “ekzein” meaning “to boil over.” It is an apt description for the red, itchy patches of inflammation that drive us nuts, and can be

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can’t “catch it” from someone else. Though the exact cause of eczema is unknown, researchers continue to uncover more about the underlying mechanisms causing it. People develop eczema from a combination of genes and triggers. People with eczema, particularly atopic dermatitis, tend to have an over-reactive immune system that, when triggered, responds by producing inflammation. It is this inflammation that causes the red, itchy, and painful skin symptoms common to eczema.

a serious, life-changing disease for millions. “Because it’s a skin disease, people may not understand how the disease can take hold of people’s lives personally, socially, and professionally,” says Julie Block, president and CEO of the National Eczema Association. “Research reveals this form of eczema goes well beyond what you see on the skin. Chronic inflammation, symptoms such as unbearable itch, being severely allergic to the world around you — these all profoundly affect the quality of life of people with AD.”

Management There is no cure for eczema, but there are treatments, and more are being developed. Depending on the type, severity and location of the eczema, treatments may include lifestyle changes, over-the-counter remedies, prescription topical, oral, and injectable medications, phototherapy, and biologic drugs. Eczema can be an unpredictable disease. People often find that even when they do all the “right” things, such as avoiding triggers or moisturizing regularly, their eczema still flares. An “out of the blue” flare is common. n

The myths Eczema is not contagious. You

Karey Gauthier, Director, Marketing & Communications, National Eczema Association


What to Expect During the Postpartum Stage Every parent is some variation of nervous when embarking on the new adventure of parenthood, even if it’s not their first time. We are now in unprecedented times and are facing special challenges. Rest assured that even with those additional challenges, the fundamentals have not changed.

P

arents are usually so excited for their new baby that they spend most of the pregnancy getting ready for labor and delivery, forgetting about the postpartum time. If you have not had a baby before, it can be hard to imagine what this time will be like, and no one can really understand what full-time parenting means until they have experienced it themselves. The eyes-wide-open approach is best. Educate yourself by learning about the possible experiences that could occur during the postpartum period. It is also important to normalize certain postpartum experiences so you do not think there is something wrong with you. Instead, you should familiarize yourself with the warning signs to know when there

is truly an issue that needs medical attention. Here are some top things to expect during the postpartum stage: • You will feel tired. Sometimes the days and nights will all run together. • Around 2-4 days in, your breasts will produce more milk. Your body has been making milk called colostrum since mid-pregnancy. Your breasts will suddenly feel very full and there will be a noticeable increase in your milk supply. If you are choosing to bottle feed, you will need to bind your breasts. This tells your body to stop making milk. • You will have bleeding, called lochia, for up to six weeks. In the beginning, it will be like a moderate to heavy period. Then it will decrease to a lighter flow,

turn pink, and will last about 10-14 days. Finally, it will be a whitish-yellow color, spotting to light in flow, and will last for 2-6 weeks. • You will likely have some pain. This pain can come from a tear, a cesarean section scar, hemorrhoids, muscular-skeletal aches, and/or sore nipples. • You will have cramps. This is normal because the uterus needs to shrink down to approximately pre-pregnancy size. The cramps can be more intense if this is not your first delivery. • Your body will feel very different and this will take time to heal. • You will forget things. Try to have a pad of paper close, set reminders, or write notes on your phone. • It will be recommended that you do not exercise until after you are seen by your healthcare provider at your postpartum appointment. • You will feel emotional and this is because your hormones are shifting, and you are sleep-deprived and adjusting to having a new baby. This feeling, often called “the baby blues,” is normal and usually lasts 10-14 days. • You will be instructed to not have intercourse for at least six weeks or longer if you need more time to heal. You should have your postpartum visit first and chose a birth control method prior to resuming intercourse. n Lily R.K.L Bastian, MSN, CNM, Midwifery Clinical Practice Advisor, American College of Nurse-Midwives

MEDIAPLANET | JOURNEY TO PARENTHOOD

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The Importance of Health Coverage for Infertility While exact numbers are difficult to find, we know that too many Americans lack good, comprehensive health insurance, and that far too many health insurance policies fail to provide coverage for infertility treatments. The purpose of health insurance is to allow patients to get care when they are sick. Yet for some reason, too many insurance companies and the employers who purchase employee health insurance coverage feel they can exclude coverage for the disease of infertility. Covering infertility I hear over and over again from my colleagues in the American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) how frustrating it is to see patients, diagnose their infertility, and recommend treatment, only then to discover that they don’t have insurance coverage. Some patients are able to save or borrow so they can afford their care; many, however, are forced to forgo care and give up their dreams of having children. Changing the insurance landscape Working with our colleagues around the country, ASRM has been pursuing laws in those states that will require insurance plans to include infertility coverage. This year alone, we already have strong efforts underway in Colorado, Washington, and California. In the last few years, New York, Delaware, and New Jersey have passed laws requiring coverage. But even now, only 17 states have any laws relating to infertility care coverage and many are not sufficiently comprehensive to be helpful to patients. I urge everyone to join us in the effort to ensure that every American who needs fertility assistance has access to the first-class medical care ASRM members provide. Find out if your state has a law requiring coverage. If it does not, contact your state legislator and demand it. Even better, contact your member of Congress and ask that insurance discrimination against those with infertility be stopped. Together, we can make this happen. Catherine Racowsky, President, American Society for Reproductive Medicine (ASRM)

Baby2Baby CEOs Talk Nonprofit Work During COVID-19 Baby2Baby CEOs Kelly Sawyer Patricof and Norah Weinstein are at the forefront of relief for children and families during COVID-19. Through their organization and constant innovation, they have distributed over 50 million essential items to families most in need during the pandemic. Baby2Baby went from a local volunteer group to a national organization when you took it over in 2011. How did you manage to spearhead that?  From day one, we were strategic about our mission and made sure that we were responding to an actual need. We took meetings with homeless shelters and Head Start centers, and we directly asked them what the children in poverty were lacking so we could respond to actual needs in the community. The answer was always the same — they needed diapers and other basic essentials. We focused on that mission and didn’t veer from it.  Nine years later, we are still fulfilling that need — just on a much larger scale and across the country. Baby2Baby has been at the forefront for COVID-19 relief. What are some of the greatest challenges you have faced? Since March, Baby2Baby has distributed over 40 million essential items including diapers, formula, soap, shampoo, hand sanitizer, masks, baby food, and more to the most vulnerable children across the country. We were tasked with doing more with less resources — we had no volunteer force behind us, limited staff working in rotating shifts to keep our

team safe, and the inability for thousands of social workers to pick up critical goods from our headquarters. We quickly adapted our distribution model to be 100 percent deliverybased, increased our weekly distribution by 420 percent, and grew our COVID-19 emergency program to 90 cities across the country, all while facing unique challenges compounded by the pandemic.   What are the biggest challenges that you see new parents are currently facing?  Diapers have always been the No. 1 item we distribute.  One out of 3 moms in the United States struggle to afford diapers. Low-income families pay up to 14 percent of their after-tax income on diapers, and they are the fourthhighest household expenditure (after rent, food, and utilities) for these families.  Now during COVID-19, the families that we serve are struggling even more to afford diapers after months of lost income, lost jobs, and increased lack of access to these basic essentials. Moms and dads in our program have resorted to making homemade diapers out of newspapers and towels. When Baby2Baby can provide diapers and other essentials, families can use their extremely limited income to focus on food and shelter. n

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Disparities in Maternal Health and the Impact on Mothers and Babies of Color Today, mothers and babies are facing an urgent health crisis. The United States remains among the most dangerous developed nations for childbirth — a problem that has only been intensified during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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he sad fact is that about every 12 hours, a mom dies due to pregnancy complications, and two babies die every hour. It is no surprise that this crisis is disproportionately affecting mothers and babies of color. Black moms are three times more likely to die from pregnancy compared to white women, and women of color are up to 50 percent more likely to give birth preterm. Multiple factors There is no one simple cause to this crisis. Multiple health, societal, and economic factors are all contributors, including unequal access to maternity care. According to research from March of Dimes’ recent report, 7 million women of childbearing age live in counties without access or with limited access to hospitals or birth centers that offer obstetric care. That’s unacceptable. For moms and babies of color, the statistics are even

more alarming. Our 2020 March of Dimes Report Card highlights the factors that contribute to adverse health complications during pregnancy and childbirth, including systemic racism, access to care, poverty, and a mother’s preexisting conditions. We found despite declining infant mortality rates, two babies die every hour in the United States, with the highest rate of infant mortality seen among Black infants. It also shows that preterm birth rates have been increasing for five years. While we don’t know the root cause, there are a variety of medical and environmental factors that may be contributing to the rise. This is affecting far too many people in our communities — people like Amber Rose Isaac, a 26-year-old Black, Puerto Rican New Yorker. Amber died just four days after giving birth via C-section, despite expressing her concerns in the months leading up to her death. Her story shines a light on what’s fueling this crisis today: lack of proper care, mistreatment, and implicit and explicit biases. The system is failing The fact is, the United States healthcare system has historically failed people of color, including during the crucial time of pregnancy. The COVID19 pandemic is unveiling the devastating racial and ethnic disparities that have existed in our society for centuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of COVID-19 cases

is 2.6 times higher in Black Americans as compared to their white counterparts, and Black Americans are two times more likely to die of COVID-19 compared to white Americans. We can’t allow this to persist. This is why March of Dimes’ fight for the health of all moms and babies is more important than ever. We’re demanding #BlanketChange, in honor of the 700 women who die each year from childbirth or pregnancy-related causes. With our supporters, we’re working to eliminate racial and ethnic health disparities, improve access to healthcare, and end preventable maternal mortality and morbidity by expanding research. Despite the challenges we face as Black moms, we have a powerful opportunity to affect change and advocate for a healthcare system that meets the needs of all moms and babies by holding our public officials accountable for creating it. Stories like Amber’s paint an all too common picture. It’s time to reverse these disturbing trends in birth outcomes for moms and babies of color. A mom’s zip code and skin color should not determine the level and quality of care her and her baby receive. As 2020 has taught us, we’re in this together. We can fight to improve maternal and infant health, and together ensure that every mom and baby gets the care they deserve. n Stacey D. Stewart, President and CEO, March of Dimes

How COVID-19 Has Impacted Expecting Parents It has been said that the birth of a baby is nature’s message that the world must go on. Perhaps in this time of pandemic, an optimistic message is appreciated more than ever. However, although the notion of hope is encouraging, parents-to-be want to know what steps they can take to help best assure a healthy baby. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), women who are pregnant might be at increased risk for severe illness from COVID19 compared to individuals who are not pregnant. Also, expecting mothers with COVID-19 could be at increased risk for other adverse outcomes, such as preterm birth. Understanding the risks As there is no way to ensure zero risk of infection, pregnant women need to understand the risks and know how to be as safe as possible. According to the CDC, in general, the risks are the same for everyone. The more people you interact with, the more closely you interact with them, and the longer that interaction, the higher the risk for getting and spreading COVID-19. Adhering to guidelines about masks, hand washing, and social distancing also are essential. Going to the doctor’s office or clinic can feel scary during the pandemic, but now is not the time for pregnant women to avoid recommended healthcare appointments. Mothers-to-be need to keep up with immunizations such as the flu and whooping cough vaccines, and to seek help for any health concerns. Once the baby arrives Although the number of out-of-hospital births in the United States is increasing, the vast majority of births occur in hospitals. The pandemic has presented safety challenges for hospitals, and some have been met more easily than others. Some safety issues require more complex solutions. Recognizing families as central to outstanding patient care, hospital policies generally promote a familycentered approach, such as permitting unlimited visiting by fathers, and supporting visits from siblings and grandparents eager to meet and bond with their newest family member. Bringing a child into the world at this time of uncertainty can seem frightening. However, expecting parents have many sources of information and support to help them navigate this complicated journey — a journey that, despite everything, is filled with hope and dreams. Judy Rollins, Ph.D., RN, Editor, Pediatric Nursing

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