September 25, 2015

Pregnancy Myths Debunked - Part 1

Disclosure: Affiliate links are used in this post. Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.


1) You can't have alcohol if you are pregnant


Your doctor will probably tell you this and you will also find this government warning label on alcoholic beverages "According to the Surgeon General, women should not drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy because of the risk of birth defects." (source)

However, it is false, but understandable as to why your doctor may choose to say you can't at all, rather than say you can have a little. Why is this? Well to put simply, some people are just stupid and if are told they can have a couple glasses of wine a week, somehow their brain interprets that as "go out and party hard." To avoid the stupid people from doing stupid things, your doctor and the government is going to treat you as if you are stupid too. 

I find it a bit insulting (though I know plenty of stupid people, so I understand their need to be so cautious) as I am an educated woman and understand that a glass of wine here and there is fine when pregnant, but a shot of tequila is not. Here's why:
"If you drink slowly, your liver can keep up and little acetaldehyde gets sent to the fetus. The small amount that does is processed by the baby's liver and doesn't get into the brain or other important areas. Conversely, if you drink quickly, your liver can't keep up and neither can the baby's." - Emily Oster (author of Expecting Better)
Yes, too much alcohol (heavy drinking) is bad for the baby - the studies show that, but little (light drinking), doesn't seem to have any affect:
"The bottom line is that the evidence overwhelmingly shows that light drinking is fine. In fact, there is virtually no evidence that drinking a glass of wine a day has negative impacts on pregnancy or child outcomes. Of course this is a little sensitive to timing - 7 drinks a week does not mean 7 shots of vodka in an hour on a Saturday night. Both the data and the science suggest that speed of drinking, and whether you are eating at the same time, matters. It's not that complicated, drink like a European adult, not like a fraternity brother."- Emily Oster
So why the ban on alcohol for pregnant women? Why all the judgment if she does have a glass of wine with her dinner? It is just the American culture. Just look at Europe and Australia, many of their women drink when pregnant and their babies are just fine, but they are more casual/social drinkers (having 1 glass of wine with dinner), while in America, it seems we can't just stop at one drink, so we are brainwashed into thinking even one glass of wine is going to harm our baby, but it won't, there is no good evidence that it will:
"Several foreign studies have all but endorsed low to moderate amounts of alcohol during pregnancy. A much-cited 2012 study from the Danish National Birth Cohort, funded in part by the CDC, found having anywhere from 1 to 8 drinks per week at any point throughout the pregnancy had no negative neurological effect on children at age 5. Two prominent studies out of Australia and the U.K. (which tracked children's development to age 14) found that low to moderate drinking while pregnant didn't result in birth defects or long-term behavioral problems. (Heavy drinking, again, revealed harmful cognitive and developmental effects, ranging from low attention span to Fetal Alcohol Syndrome.)" (source)
Emily Oster made me laugh when she wrote: "If you have too many bananas, the excess potassium can be a real problem, but no doctor is going around saying 'No amount of bananas has been proven safe!'" (Emily Oster - Expecting Better). They, however, will tell you that no amount of alcohol has been proven safe when there have not been any good studies to prove otherwise. However, no one really knows what the safe limit is, so this is what Emily recommends based on her research:
"1 to 2 drinks a week in the first trimester"
"Up to 1 drink a day in the 2nd and third trimester"
(Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
Now for a light drinker like me, one drink a day is a lot. I tend to only have maybe one glass of wine a week. I don't need alcohol by any means, but I think having none is just being over cautious and will make me feel left out during the holidays. I plan to limit my drinking just to be cautious, but I'm not going to be made to feel guilty if I decide to have a glass of wine with my turkey on Thanksgiving!

However, you might feel differently and want to avoid alcohol altogether. The decision is yours.


2) You can't have sushi if you are pregnant

"There is no conclusive evidence in published literature that eating sushi in pregnancy has an adverse effect on the pregnancy or that pregnant women have more complications after eating sushi. There are few if any published reports on an adverse association between sushi and bad pregnancy outcomes." (source)
This is just some strange American fear. Japanese women eat sushi all the time when they are pregnant and they don't seem to have a problem. So why do Americans? 

It's all about where our food comes from and if it has been handled properly. If you have eaten sushi at your favorite Japanese restaurant and have never gotten sick, you are probably fine to eat there when you are pregnant, but I would stay clear of sushi that is found in gas stations or anything being set out in the open for too long (like at a buffet).
According to PubMed and Motherisk: "...it is no longer necessary for pregnant women to avoid foods like ... sushi and sashimi. Regardless of whether seafood is raw or cooked, pregnant women should choose low mercury seafood (eg, salmon and shrimp) over higher mercury varieties (eg, fresh tuna). Pregnant women should ensure that their food is obtained from reputable establishments; stored, handled, and cooked properly; and consumed within a couple of days of purchasing." (source)
And if you want to be extra cautious, just eat cooked fish (cooking will kill bacteria) or ask if the fish had been frozen before being used in the sushi you are eating. If frozen before being used, the possible bacteria would have been killed and it should be safe to eat. (source) If making your own sushi, just freeze your fish beforehand or buy already frozen fish.

However, if you do feel sick and you had sushi, talk to your doctor right away, don't wait it out. The "bacteria in sushi are no worse when you are pregnant than when you are not," (Emily Oster - Expecting Better) but still best to see your doctor just to be cautious.

For the extra cautious, there is always vegetarian or vegetable sushi, so you don't have to worry about the fish at all and you don't have to give up sushi!


3) You can't have deli meat if you are pregnant


The fear with deli meat is the bacteria Listeria, which is known to be bad and worse if you are pregnant because it can affect the fetus. However, "the last confirmed Listeria outbreak due to deli meats was back in 2005" (Emily Oster - Expecting Better) and it was only related to turkey deli meat (source).

The problem with Listeria is it is totally random. If you go to the CDC site, you will see that the most recent outbreaks (2015), were related to soft cheeses and to Blue Bell ice cream. Outbreaks of Listeria in the past have been related to prepackaged caramel apples, cantaloupes, sprouts, and celery. None of those foods have anything to do with deli meats.
"The question is not whether Listeria infection is scary: it is. The question is what decisions you can make to avoid it. It would be difficult or impossible to avoid all foods that have caused a Listeria outbreak ... Even if you did avoid avoid all these foods, Listeria could well show up in apples next, or pork chops. There's just now way to know"  - (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
So do you need to avoid deli meat? Well, Emily chose to avoid turkey deli meat but thought it was unfair to group ham and other deli meats with turkey.
"My best estimate, based on the data, was that avoiding ham sandwiches would have lowered my risk of Listeria infection from 1 in 8.333 to 1 in 8,255... this change is really, really small. For me, it wasn't worth it." - (Emily Oster - Expecting Better)
The risk of infection from avoiding deli meat is so low that Emily didn't think it was worth giving up her ham sandwiches. Here are some other sources:
"The risk, of course, lies in that pesky Listeria bacteria that may be lurking in cold cuts. But apparently, the risk is so low that it really isn't anything to be concerned about." (source)
"Approximately 2,500 individuals will become infected with Listeria annually. This means it is extremely rare." (source
In the end, you really don't have to avoid deli meats at all if you don't want to, but it's up to you to decide if it's worth the risk. Also, you can always heat up your deli meats before eating them to reduce your risk even more:
"Of course, if you're of the better-safe-than-sorry mentality but can't kick that hankering for a deli sandwich, just have them throw your sandwich into a toaster to get it steaming hot, which is supposed to reduce the risk of Listeria." (source)
Your best bet to increase your chances of avoiding Listeria is to keep an eye on the CDC website to see what the current or past outbreaks were and avoid those foods. Listeria can appear on anything, so no matter what, you could still get it, even if it wasn't one of the foods listed on the outbreak list!

Other precautions you can take to avoid Listeria is to just wash all your fruits and vegetables, wash your hands, cook all your meat till done (no pink!), and avoid food that has been left out for too long (potlucks, buffets, etc). For more tips, just head to the CDC site!

Sources


Attribution: Images used in blog post photos do not belong to me and were found on MorgueFile and Canva.

September 18, 2015

Ebates - Review

Ebates Coupons and Cash Back
Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

I have been using Ebates for just over 3 years now. This is probably the easiest site to use to earn cash back on your purchases.

They have a nifty button you can install on your browser and every time you shop on an eligible site, it will notify you that you can get "5% back," or whatever the amount the site offers, by using Ebates.

Ebates just recently updated their button, so now it lets me know that there are coupons and will automatically apply them, if they are applicable, to my purchases! I don't have to go digging around for coupon codes anymore!

I don't shop online that often, but as you can see below, I have received over $70 back in cash via Paypal (They also have a check or donate to charity option).

I have earned a total of $78.02, but have only redeemed $73.03  (screenshot taken by me)

Downsides?

They send out your cash every 3 months and you have to reach the $5.01 threshold in order to receive your payment. However, this is not a huge deal considering coupon apps like Checkout 51 and Ibotta required you to accumulate $20 before you can redeem.

Another downside is that sometimes Ebates does not register your cash back and you have to submit a form to them with the order info, so save all copies of your orders! They are pretty quick to respond though and my cash back usually shows up the next day. Also, it does take a few days before your savings show up since the store has to verify the purchase, which can lead to forgetting to check if it shows up. I swear I have forgotten to check a few times, so I probably could have earned more.

So is it worth it?

YES! It is not that time consuming once you are all set up. It is kind of like a coupon, except you don't get the discount right away. Ebates is great for anyone who loves shopping online and are big into saving every cent they can! Plus, who couldn't use a little extra cash?

Ebates also has a sign-up bonus where after you make your first $25 purchase, they will send you a $10 gift card of your choice! However, you have to make your $25 purchase within 90 days of signing up, so I recommend waiting till you plan on making a purchase and then sign up.

Join here for free and start getting cash back from online purchases!


Another site similar to Ebates is Swagbucks. At Swagbucks you earn "swagbucks," so it is a point based system and you can use those points towards gift cards. I prefer Ebates because you get cash back, which can be used anywhere, and don't have to get a gift card to select stores. However, Swagbucks does have some stores that Ebates does not, so if you are big on saving, I would recommend using both. I still use Swagbucks from time to time, but I haven't gotten much back from it. Usually, I just redeem the $5 Amazon gift cards. 

Swagbucks also offers other ways to earn points, like taking surveys or watching videos, so if you have more free time, you can earn more points faster. They also have a search engine and you get points for searching, just like Bing Rewards

September 11, 2015

Springboard America - Review

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  Any purchase you make using these links supports this site.

I have been a member of Springboard America for over 4 years now and this site is legit. It is free to sign up and you will get a survey emailed to you a few times a week. Surveys range from $.25 to as much as $5, depending on the survey and if you qualify. Some surveys just get you entered into a $750 sweepstakes, and if you do not qualify, they sometimes give you an entry as well. (Springboard America now uses points, but every point is considered 1 penny, so it is still the same system, just worded a bit differently)

You do have to reach the $50 (5,000 points) threshold before you can redeem. When I first joined it was only through Paypal, then they switched a Paylution system, but now they have updated once again and you can redeem your points through Paypal, Virtual Visa, or they now also have gift card options to stores like Amazon and Target.

I have earned over $350 just from taking surveys from Springboard America, which is pretty sweet considering most take less than 5 minutes to fill out. However, this is over a 4 year time period, so there is no way you can make a living off of doing this, but it is great for anyone who wants a little extra pocket money! (see photo below for proof!)

I have made over $350 just for taking surveys! (screenshot was taken by me)

So what are the downsides? 

You have to qualify for the survey and you only get around 2-3 a week, sometimes if you are lucky, you will get more, depending on what surveys match your profile. 

You have to reach the $50 threshold before you can withdraw, and then it might take another month before you actually get paid, but don't worry, you do get paid! It's not so bad, considering it is just extra pocket money. 

Also, sometimes surveys are limited to a certain amount, like the first hundred people who qualify and so on, so even if you get a survey in your email, by the time you get to it, it might no longer be accepting participants. 

In the grand scheme of things, the downsides aren't so bad because it is just extra cash. This is not meant to be another part-time job. I have tried other survey sites and just did not like them.

In the end, I highly recommend Springboard America to anyone who just wants some extra pocket money! You can join here!

Join Springboard America Here!

September 4, 2015

Why You Should Space Your Children At Least 2 Years Apart

A lot of people I know have or are having children close in age, too close in my opinion, some when their first born is not even a year old! That is their decision, but according to my research, it seems that this has potential problems.

First, a common reason people choose to have the second baby so soon is because they think their children will be best friends forever. This is false. Every child is different and that will determine, along with parenting style, if your children will even be friends at all.

I can personally prove that this idea is false since my sister and I are only eighteen months apart. We are not best friends. We hardly talk to each other at all except when we get together as a family (we live in different states, but even if we were in the same city, we probably wouldn't even visit each other more than once a month, if even). My sister and I were close when we were little, but we were also brutal when it came to fights. We fought for attention, which leads to a funny story of how my dad was trying to carry both of us and ended up dropping my younger sister. So it seems by having a second so soon, the oldest child loses the attention he or she needs and sees the younger child as more of an enemy, the competition, rather than a friend.

A study done by Kasey S. Buckles and Elizabeth L. Munnich of the University of Notre Dame found that a larger gap between siblings benefits the eldest child academically, without any negative effect on the youngest child. This hit me hard because I was the oldest, yet school was harder for me than my younger sister, so I believe this was due to us being so close in age (remember, there are always exceptions, I just fit the norm).
"Our 2SLS results indicate that greater spacing increases academic achievement for older siblings; one potential explanation that would generate this result is that spacing allows parents to spend more time with older children. If this is the case, we might expect the benefits of spacing to be especially strong for first-born children, who reap the benefits of a longer period as an only child when spacing is large..." (source)
As the study suggests, parents who space their children further apart are able to give more attention and time to their older child, which leads to them being better off academically.
"When spacing is under two years, it stands to reason that an older sibling loses parental time and attention. With two in diapers, parenting is more about damage control than enrichment. Indeed, Buckles found that older siblings are read to less and watch more television between the ages of 3 and 5 than kids who are spaced at least two years apart." (source)
Now my sister and I are also very different. She was into sports, was more outgoing and rebellious, while I was more responsible and kept to myself. That's another thing, you can do the best parenting there is, but your two children could still be polar opposites, so it doesn't matter how close in age they are. Also, if they are different sexes, they probably won't have that same kind of bond as two sisters or two brothers would.

Second, your body is still recovering from having your first child.
"Columbian researchers found in an analysis of 67 studies between 1966 and 2006 that pregnancy intervals shorter than 18 months (or 2 years, 3 months between full term siblings) increased the risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and small size for gestational age. Intervals longer than 59 months (or 5 years, 8 months between full term siblings) increased the odds for the same problems." (source)
"In yet another report which gathered research from over two million pregnancies in 18 different countries, it indicated that both mom and her offspring will have better health outcomes when births are spaced by 3-5 years." (source)
"If the next pregnancy occurs before mom has fully recovered and replenished her resources, unless she is now eating a sufficiently nutrient-dense diet, her body will not have enough resources left to make a baby with optimal health, bone structure, or brain capacity." (source)
So the second child might not be affected academically but could face potential health problems. One way to counter this is if the mother eats a nutrient-dense diet to rebuild her body faster for the next baby, but even so, is it worth it? Wouldn't you rather have two healthy and smart kids instead of one healthy and one smart kid?
“There are only so many hours in the day, and the longer that period can be when a child is the only child, the greater the investment they are going to receive.” (source)
That leads to my final point, why even have two? Why not have just one? Only children seem to be better off for the most part. I was pretty much an only child, my sister was more like a messy roommate. Everyone likes to think that being an only child is a negative thing and worry that if they don't have another, their child won't function right in society, well they would be wrong.
"The differences between only children and those raised with siblings tend to be positive ones. Ms. Falbo and Ms. Polit examined hundreds of studies in the 1980s and found that only children had demonstrably higher intelligence and achievement; only children have also been found to have more self-esteem. These findings, which have been confirmed repeatedly in recent years, hold true regardless of whether parents of only children stayed together and regardless of economic class." (source
"Researchers like the sociologist Judith Blake believe these qualities result from the fact that parents who have just one child are able to devote more resources — time, money and attention — to them than parents who have to divide resources among more children." (source)
Because of my experiences, I only really plan on having one and we'll see how that goes, if at any point we decide we want another, they will have at least a three-year age gap, preferably four. This way I only have to send one off to college at a time and each child will get all the attention he or she needs in his or her's younger years.

Sources


Attribution: Image used in blog post photo does not belong to me and was found on Pexels.


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