How to Find the Right Daycare for your Child

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Sending your child off to daycare for the first time can be petrifying. There’s so many concerns running through your head: that nobody will be able to care for your baby as well as you can, you feel you haven’t had enough time with your child, and you fear they will become more attached to their caregiver than you, or you’re afraid you will miss your baby’s firsts. It’s perfectly natural to have these fears. The bond you form with your child is one that is special, delicate and unique. The good news is no caregiver can be a replacement in your child’s eyes for you, their mother. And you don’t need to worry about missing your baby’s first steps, or the first time they say mommy. Your baby will always feel the most comfortable taking their biggest steps when their around you, because that’s when they feel the most safe and at ease. three little girls and female teacher in kindergarten When it comes to choosing the right daycare for your child, make sure you give yourself ample time to find the perfect fit. If you know you only have 3 months of maternity leave left or you’re looking for employment, take the time in-between to look for childcare options. To guide you in your journey to choosing the right daycare, here are some crucial questions to ask before making your final decision. 4-huntington-beach-preschool-daycare

Cleanliness
  • How often do they disinfect the diapering area? Is it after every use?
  • Do they use disposable cover sheets that they replace every time a child needs to be changed?
  • What qualifies a child to be sent home when they are sick?
  • At what condition is the child allowed to return to daycare, after they’ve been sick?
  • What is their policy on diarrhea? If a child has diarrhea during the day, do they make sure to keep the child away from the other children, in order to keep infection from spreading? Do they recommend that children with diarrhea stay at home?
  • Is the staff required to wash their hands before work, after work, after every diaper change, before they handle food and after field trips?
  • How often are the toys washed? What are they washed with?

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Bad Behavior Policy
  • What is the daycare’s policy on handling disruptive behavior such as bullying, yelling, hitting, etc.?
  • If your child is being picked on, how will the staff attend to the situation?
  • If your child is crying, how are the childcare professionals trained to react?
Childcare Qualifications and Turnover
  • Where did the caregivers get their degree, education or license?
  • How long have they been practicing childcare?
  • How does the center assess their caregivers and how often?
  • Are caregivers required to go to workshops or classes to improve their skillsets or learn new teaching methods?
  • How long have they been employed at the daycare center? If you notice the majority of the caregivers only have a year under their belt, there may be an issue of turnover, which could be a major red flag for how the center is run internally. Plus, you want your child to be comfortable with the people they are learning from. When caregivers are coming and going, it is difficult for your child to get used to that change.
Accreditation

National accredited associations hold childcare centers to higher standards than most state licensing associations. If you are concerned about accreditation, look for these two accreditation organizations.

  • The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
  • The National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC).

These are the largest childcare accreditation organizations. Teacher and toddlers in daycare

Adult to Child Ratio

You want to make sure your child will get lots of attention when they’re at the daycare center, because you’ve done such a great job of this at home. When you are weighing an adult to child ratio, the golden number is no more than 1:4 (one adult for four infants), especially when your child isn’t a year old yet. Make sure to ask:

  • How many children are allowed in each class?
  • How many teachers are assigned to each classroom?
Staying Involved

It’s important for you to always know how your child is being cared for when you’re not around. Before enrolling your infant in a childcare program ensure you are able to do the following:

  • Be able to volunteer for field trip chaperoning or to be present at your child’s birthday celebration.
  • To be able to have daily check-ins with your child’s caregivers.
  • To have the opportunity to even read a book allowed to the class every once in a while.

The right caregiver will respect you for asking the right questions, in order to stay involved in your child’s development at the center. These are not the end-all be-all of questions to ask when you’re looking for the perfect childcare center for your infant, however, it will help you make decisions more clearly when you have questions planned out before you inquire. At Villa Majella, we are actively involved in assisting our residents in finding proper childcare, especially when our mothers are ready to go back to work. For more information on our program, please visit our website. www.villamajella.org.

Resources

http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/849329/common-fears-about-daycare http://alphamom.com/parenting/baby/daycare-drama-mommy-guilt/ http://www.themommyvortex.com/5-things-new-moms-should-know-about-daycare/ http://www.parenting.com/article/ease-your-baby-fears1204123138097 http://childcareaware.org/parents-and-guardians/child-care-101/5-steps-to-choosing-care

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Ways for Single Mothers to Boost Their Self-esteem

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B3H3AA frustrated mother holds infant while older siblings play sword battles in the background, backyard, home USA

Are you pregnant and single? Do you have young children and you’re recently divorced? Do you get lonely and sad thinking about where life’s road lead you? I am here to tell you you’re not alone.

According to singlemothersguide.com, 4 out of 10 children are born to unwed mothers, and two-thirds of children were born to women under the age of 30 in 2013. In 2014, the US Census Bureau found that out of 12 million single families surveyed, single mothers accounted for 80% of those families. That’s 9.6 million mothers, living in the United States, feeling similar feelings you do; alone, having a difficult time doing what is best for yourself and your child or children, wishing for more flexibility in your life and definitely more you time. Maybe sometimes you even blame yourself for your circumstances.

It can be difficult to give yourself fully to your children when emotionally and physically you feel a hole in your heart, or a desire for greatness that you want so badly to obtain, but the vehicle of getting there seems too out of reach. Here are a couple pieces of advice I can offer you, to assist you on your journey back to happiness, where you feel no regrets or need to be destructive towards yourself.

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You are Not Alone

As I mentioned above, there are 9.6 million women in your exact circumstance, taking care of a child or children without the support of a partner. Allow yourself to cry every now and then, because you are experiencing an obstacle in your life that is real and true. Don’t dismiss your feelings, just let them flow, recognize their presence and then let them go.

Seek Outside Support

Like most single mothers, you are working hard in order to provide for your little ones, which doesn’t always give you lots of time to go to support groups. Luckily, there are tons of virtual support groups that you can join online, specifically through Facebook. Here are three I highly recommend that are active.

Single Sisters, Single Mothers

Single Mothers United

Single Mothers Raising Boys Discussion Group

No meeting times for you to struggle to make. You can just reach out to women who understand where you’re coming from. You can ask them questions and most of the time someone will reply within 24 hours.

Handling Nighttime Loneliness

When work is done, your kids are fed and they’re fast asleep, you are then left with yourself. What can come up during this time can be painful. Those reoccurring thoughts of, “I did this to myself, I made him leave me,” “I just want someone to help me through this,” “I feel like I have no one who can understand my pain,” or “If I tell anyone how I am feeling, they will think I’m selfish.” These are all normal thoughts that can be disruptive to your wellbeing, when they aren’t dealt with in a healthy way. Here are a couple ways you can handle these emotions and come out of it feeling more satisfied and at peace.

  1. Read a book you love.
  2. Make a happy list of things you did that day that brought you joy. Even if they are small things, they will still make you feel better, I promise.
  3. Start a blog about your experience as a single mother. Your words could be a source of comfort for single mothers all over the world. Plus, it’s therapeutic to get your thoughts out on paper. Many other single mothers have started blogs that have become very successful. Here are two to check out- http://mssinglemama.com and http://www.single-momnation.com.
  4. Do chores around the house to tire yourself out. It will keep your mind busy.
  5. Watch a movie that you know you’ll enjoy. Your time matters.
  6. Take a bath, give yourself a facial or do your nails. All those things can make you feel good and girly too.

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Plan For you and your Baby’s Future

Are you interested in going on a girl’s weekend in the coming months and you need to plan to get a babysitter? Do you want to take your son or daughter on an adventure you know they will enjoy? Maybe you want to start dating in the coming year, and you’re looking for the best online dating website to join. These are all exciting possibilities that take a bit of planning to achieve. Planning for the future can be a lot fun and I highly recommend it as a great before bedtime activity, to keep you positive and moving forward.

Surround yourself with Good Friends and Family

Everyone’s lives are busy and it may be easy to think my friends and family know I am having a tough time, they should call me or come over to see how I am. Unfortunately, your friends and family aren’t mind readers, meaning, you need to be the one to reach out and tell them what you need. If they are good friends and family, they will be there for you, no matter what that looks like. And In the end, you’ll be happier.

Hope this post gave you a couple tools to use when days feel tough and difficult to get through. Just remember, you are not alone.

At Villa Majella, we strive to instill a strong sense of self-esteem in the mothers who come through our doors. If you are homeless, in need of housing and support, you are not alone, we are here for you.

Why Getting your GED is Important for your Future

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GED

If you didn’t finish high school and you’re looking to better your financial future, getting a GED (General Educational Development) is a great option for you. You may not know all the benefits to receiving a GED certificate, which compels me to tell you why passing your GED exam will change your life.

  1. You Will Have Better Job Opportunities

You will be qualified for more job opportunities than a high school dropout. You can expect to get jobs in these areas: construction, office and administrative support, installation, maintenance and repair services, short order cook, cosmetologist, occupational therapist aide, physical therapist aide, retail salesperson or a travel agent. By passing your GED exam and also completing one year of vocational job training or license training, will allow you to enter into one of these positions.

  1. Better Your Chances of Furthering Your Education

If you’re interested in a college degree, getting a GED allows you better chances of getting accepted to a four-year accredited college, or a two-year associate program, which leads to even better job opportunities and financial earnings later in life.

  1. You Will Earn More Money

Those who have a GED certificate or a high school diploma, can expect to earn on average $2,400 a month or $28,800 a year, compared to high school dropouts who earn $2,100 a month or $25,200 a year.

  1. You Will Build Your Self-Confidence

You will gain more self-confidence, knowing you took big steps in investing in your future. Also, the GED is not an easy exam. When you pass the exam, you will feel a great sense of achievement. And receiving your GED certificate will also give you more confidence in applying for jobs you want, because your ability to get them are greater than someone who didn’t finish high school.

GED

I know that testing can be difficult, and the process towards getting a GED can feel intimidating or stressful, however, just remember your life is important and you do deserve a chance at a brighter future for yourself and your family. You can get started right now with the resources provided below.

At Villa Majella, we do stand behind the GED program, as a positive education pathway for our residents.

Resources and Practice Questions

GED Testing Service

http://www.gedtestingservice.com/testers/test-sections

Free GED Practice Tests

http://www.gedstudyguide.org/free-ged-practice-tests/

http://www.studyguidezone.com/gedtest.htm

GED Test Guide

http://www.gedforfree.com

http://www.amazon.com/Cracking-Test-Practice-Tests-Edition/dp/0307946045

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1618658875/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_1?pf_rd_p=1944687562&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe-1&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=0307946045&pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=184GK8W173S09S7YC0ZN

http://www.walmart.com/ip/10532425?wmlspartner=wlpa&adid=22222222227000015617&wl0=&wl1=g&wl2=c&wl3=52921420608&wl4=&wl5=pla&wl6=43593639552&veh=sem

GED Prep Classes

San Luis Obispo- http://ae.slcusd.org/ged

Santa Barbara- http://www.sbcc.edu/ce/ahs-ged.php

Ventura- http://www.vace.com/programs_adult_literacy.html

Los Angeles- http://college.lattc.edu/academicconnections/ged-pathways/

Top 5 Best Books on Pregnancy and Birth

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Finding out you’re pregnant for the first time can be filled with many mixed emotions. Both you and your significant other can expect to feel anything from excitement to fear, confusion, love and anxiety, sometimes all at once and even a couple times a day.

The best way to manage these emotions is to read and get educated on what to expect during your pregnancy. Many first-time mothers have said reading certain books on pregnancy and what to expect, made them feel anxious and unprepared for the journey ahead. Through my research, I can understand why many women feel that way. There are multiple books out there that speak too clinically to the reader, so the reader feels talked down to. Some authors may also offer a biased opinion on a specific subject on pregnancy that can make the reader feel uncomfortable or uncertain as to whether they got all the facts. There are also many soon-to-be fathers, who have had a difficult time finding helpful reading material to support their mixed emotions and need for direction, before their first child is born. While there are many books written on the topic of pregnancy, how to get pregnant, preparing for the birthing process, and the adjustment period once the baby is born, here are five books that have a good mix of hard facts, humor, compassion and a dose of reality.

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy

Mayo Clinic Guide to a Healthy Pregnancy: From Doctors Who are Parents too by Roger W. Harms M.D.

This book is unlike any other pregnancy related book you will read, because doctors and nurses, who also happen to be parents, authored it. While the book is written with some scientific jargon, don’t take this to mean the author is being condescending; they are merely trying to give you all the facts on how to handle your three trimesters, how to change your eating habits in order to nurture your developing child’s body and brain, appropriate exercises to manage your weight gain while keeping yourself and your baby healthy, and most importantly the book displays charts that illustrate signs and symptoms to watch out for and how to handle them. Many readers have also enjoyed the series of “decision guides,” which discuss the dilemma of whether or not to breastfeed, the decision to circumcise, and when is it appropriate to go back to work once your child is born.

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The Pregnancy Countdown Book: Nine Months of Practical Tips, Useful Advice, and Uncensored Truths by Susan Magee and Kara Nakisbendi M.D. (Contributor)

This book is for first-time mothers, who want to get the facts without all the fluff. Magee is great at explaining the trials of pregnancy in a realistic manner. For example, she explains the first trimester as being hard-hard, the second is hard and the end is hard. She also isn’t afraid to answer questions some mothers are afraid to ask including dealing with varicose veins, what to cut down on eating or drinking during your pregnancy, when to stop air travel, how to sleep comfortably and safely for yourself and baby, to not worry to much if you don’t feel emotionally attached to your baby in the first couples weeks or months after you give birth, and to not freak out when breastfeeding is difficult for the first month and much more. Magee also delves into positive ways to interact with your significant other during stressful moments. This book doesn’t have all the answers, however, it is full of encouraging wisdom rooted in scientific facts, and great humorous moments along the way.

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The Healthy Pregnancy Book: Month by Month, Everything You Need to Know from America’s Baby Experts by William and Martha Sears, Linda Holt (Contributor) and BJ Snell (Contributor)

For women who are interested in the latest super foods and health crazes, here is a book that gives you authoritative facts on how to workout when you’re pregnant, how to manage stress, sleep, the super foods every pregnant woman should consume, choosing the right healthcare provider and birth plan, plus, personal pregnancy and birth stories too. The authors of The Healthy Pregnancy Book have years of experience in the medical and nutrition profession. William Sears has practiced pediatrics for over 40 years and is an associate clinical professor at the University of California, Irvine, School of Medicine. Martha Sears is a registered nurse and parenting and health consultant. This is one of 30 books the Sears have published. They understand the hormone swings pregnant women go through, and keep the tone of the writing positive and uplifting, in order to make the process of pregnancy fun for their readers. They even offer cute baby bubbles with little factoids to make you smile with every page you read.

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From Dude to Dad: The Diaper Dude Guide to Pregnancy by Chris Pegula, creator of Diaper Dude and Frank Meyer

Women aren’t the only ones who need guidance, first-time dads also need advice on everything from getting pregnant, how to manage their emotions and their significant others emotions too once they become pregnant, what to expect over the next nine months and other parenting advice. I applaud the author for being bold and hilarious in his writing. Pegula lays the facts and emotions of pre-fatherhood on the line. This book has already received 23 five-star reviews from Amazon since its 2014 release. Men who have read this book said they read this book cover-to-cover, and loved how much Pegula made them laugh, and how the tone of the book made them feel at ease about fatherhood. The chapters follow in a similar humorous fashion including chapters titled Dude, your life isn’t over, Ultrasound- the must-see movie of the year, Your role during labor, Baby-proofing and It’s all about we, not me.

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Ina May’s Guide to Childbirth By Ina May Gaskin

If you’re interested in having a natural birth, you will love reading this book by Ina May Gaskin, the nations leading midwife. Gaskin has been a midwife for over 30 years, and she draws from her personal experiences to write this compelling childbirth book. She understands the fears some mothers have of natural childbirth, and she is great at putting those types of readers at ease, by showing the reader how to trust their body and the joys of natural childbirth that many women have experienced since the beginning of time. Some topics Gaskin covers in the book are the importance of mind-body connection during the birthing process, what really happens during labor, reducing the pain of labor without drugs but with massage and touch instead, the risks of anesthesia and cesareans that your doctors won’t always tell you, how to avoid postpartum bleeding and depression, and how to create a safe, comfortable environment for birth in any setting, including a hospital.

I hope you enjoyed the short synopses of these books, and hopefully it has inspired you to pick one or even all of them up, so you can get educated about your exciting pregnancy journey ahead.

 

Tea By the Sea 2015: Another Great Success

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Villa Majella Staff and Residents

Villa Majella staff and residents.

Tea By the Sea 2015 was quite a success. It was filled with a loving and generous community of volunteers, board members, staff and other supporters of Villa Majella. We had well over 70 silent auction items, and the majority of the items sold. The table of food was delicious and in plenty. Everyone savored the tea, finger sandwiches, cookies, cupcakes and other goodies, as they enjoyed the captivating guitar tunes from Sam Adams.

We want to thank Montecito Bank & Trust and Bishop Diego High School for volunteering their time, your efforts made the event go so smoothly. Also, big thank you to the Moreharts for hosting, and our incredible donors for allowing us to auction off some incredible items. Finally, thank you to all the board members who lent a helping hand, Tea By the Sea wouldn’t have been possible without you. We are already counting down the days till next year’s fundraiser. Please enjoy the photos that were taken during the fundraiser.

Montecito Bank & Trust Volunteers

Montecito Bank & Trust volunteers.

Bishop Diego High School Volunteers helping out with the raffle.

Bishop Diego High School volunteers helping out with the raffle.

Silent auction table at Tea By the Sea 2015.

Silent auction table at Tea By the Sea 2015.

Guitarist and Entertainer, Sam Adams

Guitarist and entertainer, Sam Adams

Tea and Food Table and Tea By the Sea.

Tea and food table and Tea By the Sea.

Susan Bennett, Maui trip raffle winner.

Susan Bennett, Maui trip raffle winner.

Foods and Drinks to Avoid When You’re Breastfeeding

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Main photo for breastfeeding blog postDuring pregnancy, it’s important for you to be conscious of what you’re eating and drinking, as the nutrients or lack there of, could effect the development of your child. Between caffeine, sushi and chocolate withdrawals, you couldn’t wait for your baby to arrive, so you could once again consume all the foods that make you the happiest. Unfortunately, if you are choosing to breastfeed, you need to maintain a similar diet as you did when you were pregnant. Here is guide of foods and beverages you will want to eliminate or decrease your exposure to while you’re breastfeeding.

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Coffee

I know you’re irritable and you probably haven’t slept for days, however, if you drink that cup of coffee before feeding time, the likelihood the caffeine will make its way into your milk is very high. This could cause a number of outcomes. Your baby could become fussy right before breastfeeding or it may be difficult to get your child to lie down for a nap. Another effect of caffeine is your baby’s stomach may also get upset, because babies aren’t able to digest caffeine as quickly as adults can. If you can wait to drink your cup of coffee until your baby has gone down for a nap, you will be thankful that you did.

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Dairy

Not being able to consume dairy products when you’re breastfeeding is kind of ironic. In any case, you want to avoid it for many reasons. If your baby has eczema, other skin irritation or they tend to have a hard time latching right before it’s time to breastfeed, your baby may be experiencing an allergy to dairy. To ensure the allergy doesn’t develop further, cut out dairy from your diet for multiple weeks. If your babies skin irritations clear up or you notice your baby is much more relaxed during feeding time, the dairy may have been the issue. If you are craving dairy products, try consuming other types such as almond milk or goat cheese.

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Spice and Citrus

This one really depends on your baby’s sensitivities, as many babies appreciate variation in the flavors of the breast milk they consume, and if you’re eating spicy or citrusy foods, you can serve your baby a plethora of flavors. However, for some babies, your obsession with spicy food could be disruptive to their feeding time, sleeping habits and digestive system. The signs that will illustrate your baby’s sensitivity to these foods include fussiness after feeding time, uncontrollable screaming, sleeping and waking abruptly, skin irritation, wheezing or green stools. Symptoms can be immediate or even 24 hours after you last breastfed.

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Alcohol

Good news, you can have a glass of wine every now and then, even if you choose to breastfeed. Keep your alcohol intake to one glass a day, and if you’re breastfeeding, wait two hours per drink before breastfeeding, to ensure the alcohol doesn’t get into your milk.

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Fish

This is a grey area, as there are some fish that you can consume and some you can’t while your breastfeeding. Just like when you were pregnant, you want to make sure you aren’t eating fish that have high mercury levels, because you don’t want your baby ingesting those toxins. This would include shark, swordfish, king mackerel and tilefish. If you are craving fish, reach for low mercury level fish such as salmon, canned light tuna or catfish.

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Chocolate

Don’t worry, you don’t have to give up chocolate entirely when you’re breastfeeding, however, be aware that chocolate does have a lot of caffeine in it, and you don’t want that caffeine being transferred into your milk and eventually to your baby. Chocolate also has a laxative effect on your baby. Not only will their runny poops upset your baby, but you will also become frustrated. If you notice your child is having diarrhea after you consume chocolate, you may have to part ways with your love of chocolate for a little while.

Hope you learned some fun facts about what not to consume while you’re breastfeeding. If you stick to these six suggestions, you may find breastfeeding to be a relaxing and stress-free time for you and your baby.

Resources:

http://www.mom365.com/baby/breastfeeding/10-foods-to-avoid-while-breastfeeding.aspx

http://www.babycenter.com/404_are-there-any-foods-i-should-avoid-while-breastfeeding_8906.bc

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/infant-and-toddler-health/in-depth/breastfeeding-nutrition/art-20046912?pg=2

http://www.parents.com/advice/babies/newborn-care/what-foods-should-i-avoid-while-breastfeeding/

http://healthyeating.sfgate.com/foods-not-eat-breastfeeding-newborn-baby-1882.html

5 Reasons to Exercise During Your Pregnancy

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200468215-001 Pregnancy yoga

Back in the 1950’s, many doctors discouraged women from exercising during their pregnancy, because they believed it could harm the development of the baby in utero. Doctors were also concerned about the mother’s well being, as there is a higher risk of injury to women who do exercise. Pregnant women do have increased flexibility, which can cause injury during exercise, however, if the woman stays within the line of motion that she had before pregnancy, her risk of injury is low.

According to The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecology, it’s perfectly healthy for active women to continue to exercise for at least 30 minutes a day during their pregnancy. They also encourage women who were not previously active to start exercising when they are pregnant.

There are many benefits pregnant women can experience if they exercise during their pregnancy. Even the babies can reap the benefits too, long after the mother has given birth. There are more benefits out there, but here are the most important ones.

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Sleeping Better

During the last month of pregnancy, it can be difficult for mothers to sleep through the night. The American Pregnancy Association says if you exercise regularly, but not too close to when you’re falling asleep (at least three hours before you go to bed), it will assist in tiring you out and allowing you more restful sleep.

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Less Painful Delivery

Did you know active mothers tend to have shorter, less painful labors, if they engage in continuous exercise during their pregnancy? Due to the amount of energy you exert during exercise, you can build up and maintain stamina that will assist you during the birthing process including shorter first and second stages of labor. Pelvic toning can decrease episiotomies/tearing during labor. Scientific research has also shown that 75% of women who exercise regularly are less likely to need a forceps delivery, and four times less likely to need a Cesarean section.

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Easier Weight Loss After Birth

A healthy, pregnant woman will gain on average between 25-35 pounds. Anything over that will make it more difficult for the mother to lose that weight after the baby is born. When a pregnant woman exercises, she will keep excess weight off and maintain muscle tone. Furthermore, the British Journal of Sports Medicine says women who exercise three times a week during their second and third trimester, can decrease the risk of their newborn being overweight later in life.

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Less Chance of Constipation

When women are pregnant, their progesterone levels tend to increase; causing soon-to-be mothers left feeling uncomfortable and constipated. Regular exercise and a high fiber diet can help to combat constipation. Good foods to consume during pregnancy that are high in fiber are almonds, legumes, broccoli, collard greens, blackberries and whole grain spaghetti.

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Exercise Improves your Mood

When you exercise, your brain releases endorphins that make you feel happy. During pregnancy, feelings of depression can be stronger than during postpartum. By exercising, those depressive tendencies will decrease, leaving you feeling content and healthy.

Resources

What to Consider When You’re Placing Your Child for Adoption

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pregnant

Photo taken from ababystepadoption.com

Being pregnant is such a wonderful time in any woman’s life. Sometimes, pregnancy can come when you aren’t ready to be a parent. Fortunately, there are many families in the world, waiting for a chance to be parents. Considering adoption can be incredibly difficult and daunting. Fortunately, Villa Majella has a highly experienced and professional adoption lawyer, Doug Donnelly, available for referral, to assist you in any questions or concerns you have regarding placing your child for adoption.

Many of you who are coming to this blog may have many unanswered questions about the adoption process including are you able to pick the adoptive family, how to ensure your child grows up with a religious upbringing, how to have a role in your child’s life after the adoption process has been completed, concerns of involvement of the birth father, how to get your bills paid during and after your pregnancy, and are you able to change your mind once the adoption has been finalized? We are here to answer these questions for you.

 Am I able to pick the adoptive family?

Absolutely, it is encouraged that you pick a family that you feel embodies the lifestyle and morals you want your child to grow up with. Adoption agencies have family profiles that have already been screened under specific guidelines, so you know you are choosing from a pool of perspective families who are loving, and emotionally and financially ready to care for your child.

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Photo taken from theguardian.com

How can I ensure my child grows up in a religious household?

During the adoption process, you will be allowed and encouraged to have a discussion on religious preferences with the potential adoptive family, to ensure your child is brought up in the religious environment that rings true to you.

How can I play a role in my child’s life after the adoption process has been completed?

Either before or after the child is born, but before the placement, the mother and the adoptive family can prepare and sign something called a “Postadoption Contact Agreement,” also sometimes referred to as an “Open Adoption Agreement.” Under California law, if that agreement is in writing and signed by all concerned, and if it is filed in the adoption case, that agreement is enforceable under California law. This will ensure the birth mother can have contact with the birth child, if that is her wish.  Some of these agreements go further and authorize the birth parent(s) to have visitation rights with the child after the adoption. Arrangements of that type are sometimes referred to as “cooperative adoption,” and are considered somewhat controversial, for fear it could cause a dysfunctional upbringing for the child, or confusion regarding who is the “mother” or “father.”

The traditional “closed” adoption is almost non-existent under California law, at least in an independent adoption, you are required to know a great deal about the adopting parents including their full legal names, and what they do for a living. In fact, if you request to know their address, the law requires the address be provided to you.

How much does the birth father have to be involved in the adoption process?

According to the California Law, the birth father is seldom required to be involved in the adoption process. The only exceptions to this rule, which would then require the birth father to be involved, would be the following:

  1. If you and the father are or have been married.
  2. If the father has received the child into his home, and has publicly acknowledged that the child is his child.
  3. If the father and you have both, at the hospital, signed a California state form in which you both agree he is the father of the child. This form is called a Voluntary Declaration of Paternity.
  4. If the father has done everything he could have done to take responsibility for the child, both emotionally and financially, during the pregnancy, starting within a short time after he knew or should have known of the pregnancy.

If any of the exceptions above apply to you, than the father’s consent and involvement are required, and the child cannot be adopted without his consent.

However, in all circumstances, even if the father’s consent to the adoption is not required, the law still requires the birth father be notified that the child is being placed for adoption. Even if the birth father files a lawsuit against the adoption, the only way he will have a chance of winning is if he can prove the child is better off with him than with the adopting family you have selected.

What financial assistance is the adopting family allowed to provide?

Under California Law, the adoptive parents can pay all medical bills related to the pregnancy including doctor visits, counseling, and even reasonable and necessary living expenses for the period of time when the mother is no longer able to work (usually the last three months before the mother gives birth.) The law also allows them to assist for up to six weeks after the mother gives birth. As always, there are limitations to these rules. Always be specific about your financial needs to your lawyer, so they can better explain what is and is not legally allowed.

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Photo taken from http://www.mooreaphoto.com/galleries/babies/

What if I change my mind after I give birth and I want to mother my child?

There are only a few instances where you can change your mind and get your baby back once you have handed the child over to the adoptive family. Since there are two primary types of adoption, how long the law allows you to change your mind will depend upon the type of adoption involved.

Agency Adoption: In an agency adoption, the birth mother signs something called a “relinquishment,” which the agency then files in Sacramento. Once that relinquishment is filed, which can take up to 10 days, the relinquishment becomes binding and the mother is no longer able to change her mind, except with the consent of the agency. The mother can ask that the agency hold the relinquishment for a time, and refrain from sending it to Sacramento, if the mother wants more time to think it over, or if she wants to have it held until the father’s rights are terminated.

Independent Adoption: In an independent adoption, the mother signs something called ”consent,” and by law can change her mind until sooner of:

1. 30 days have elapsed since she signed the consent.
2. One business day has elapsed since she signed a form waiving the 30 day revocation period.

Within these guidelines, California Law states if the mother changes her mind, the child MUST be returned to her with no questions asked by the adoptive family. If you choose to waive the document stating your right to change your mind, you will need a lawyer to advise you. The law allows for the adopting parents to cover the cost of your legal representation. If you are not in California but you want to sign the waiver, you don’t need a lawyer. However, if you choose to have one, the adoptive family can still cover that cost.

We hope the information above has answered some of the questions you may have regarding your choice to place your child for adoption. For more resources on adoption, please visit the Law Offices of Douglas R. Donnelly, or visit his website.

Resources:

http://adoptionlawfirm.com/birthparents.html
http://www.mooreaphoto.com/galleries/babies/
http://www.theguardian.com/news/datablog/2012/sep/26/adoption-and-care-statistics-england
http://ababystepadoption.com

Villa Majella’s Annual Tea By the Sea Fundraising Event is Just Around the Corner!

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Villa Majella’s 19th annual Tea By the Sea fundraiser is coming up on May 9th, 2015.

This wonderful event will take place from 1-4 pm and it will be held at a beautiful seaside estate. Guests will enjoy an amazing tea buffet filled with delectable desserts, finger sandwiches, fruit, tea and other refreshments prepared by local Santa Barbara vendors, Villa Majella staff and volunteers. We will also be running a raffle. Guests who purchase a raffle ticket will be entered to possibly win a trip for 2 to Maui, Hawaii. The rest of the event will feature musical entertainment and a silent auction. All proceeds from the event will go towards funding all existing and future Villa Majella programs.

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Anyone who has been to this event in the past knows how beautiful the day is. From the delicious spread, to the gorgeous ocean views,  to the incredibly talented musical guests, and the enticing silent auction. This event is certainly not one to miss.

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If you have not attended one of our Tea By the Sea fundraisers before and you’re interested in getting more information, please call 805-964-1650 and speak to our office manager, Eileen. Look out for invitations that will be sent out within the month. Looking forward to seeing all of you there!

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“Tea by the Sea”

Villa Majella’s 18th annual Tea By the Sea was a huge success! Thank you to all the wonderful Vendors who donated silent auction items and food to our event. A big thank you the The William H. Hannon Foundation continuing to support our fundraiser by funding out Hawaii Trip raffle. We could not do this without you! The winner of this years Hawaii trip sent a post card stating that she is having a wonderful time and that it is, “Truly Paradise.” Our entertainment was outstanding! Lynette Gaeona and band, Jamie Green, and The Brambles were amazing. All musicians donated their musical talents because they all believe in Villa Majella and what we offer homeless, pregnant mothers.

Of course events such as this do not go well without committed volunteers, and board members who show up the day of the event and give it their all! Thank you!

Thank you to all the attendees of the Tea and who bought raffle tickets. We are truly grateful!

We had an absolutely beautiful seaside day, filled with wonderful music, delicious food, and fellowshipping to support a much needed resource in Santa Barbara county.

Thank you just doesn’t seem like enough to say to all who support Villa Majella and enable us to continue to support homeless, pregnant women that come to us in need.