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The Magic of Children’s Bath Time

Last updated on April 4th, 2022 at 07:44 pm

Rubber-duckyOne of the loveliest videos I have ever seen is of baby Sonia receiving her first bath. I get teary just watching it as I remember the first baths I gave my beloved babies. Just as with baby Sonia, they were so relaxed, so calm, so utterly at peace. It made perfect sense to me then, and now. After all, a baby has spent 9 months floating in liquid in a warm and safe environment. How comforting to be back in familiar territory. It’s a feeling that we keep our entire lives.

As parents we tend to forget how important and soothing water is, not just for babies, but to toddlers, teenagers….and adults. Why, just the other day my 11-year old son took one look at my frazzled face and said, ‘maybe you should take a lavender bubble bath tonight’. (That is code in our house for ‘the pin has been pulled on the mom-grenade, we need to minimize collateral damage).

As winter extends, think about extending bath time in your house. Take inspiration from Sonia’s bath. Water gently poured over the face and head, a peaceful environment, a loving touch. Maybe add some bubbles as your child gets older. (I swear by l’Occitane Foaming Lavender Bath – the lavender calms everyone immediately and promotes a restful sleep. It’s pricey, but half a capful gives plenty of bubbles so the bottle lasts a long time). By all means, add some fun bath toys. A simple cup or a few pieces of Tupperware can mean hours of pleasure or Amazon has a huge selection of creative toys. For your teenagers, try not to rip your hair out at the hours spent in the bathroom and the piles of towels on the floor. Remember, calm and in control is good, and if water dampens the hormonal flames, maybe it’s worth the short-term aggravation.

The other bonus? Bathing as a positive introduction to water eases the way for swimming classes, which keeps your child safer in the water their entire life. Naturally you should NEVER leave a child unattended in the bath, not even to run into the other room for a clean diaper. Remember, drowning can happen in 2 minutes in under 2 inches of water. Just as important, young siblings do not make good babysitters when water is around as they don’t understand that little brother or sister lying in the water is not a problem, or maybe they put them there in a moment of conflicted feelings, not knowing what could happen.

Looking for further inspiration for bathing? I recommend that all-time classic, Ernie, singing ‘Rubber Duckie’.

p.s. As I listened to the video my golden retriever, Neptune, came rushing into my office with his ears cocked and a look on his face that said ‘Duck??? You have a DUCK???!!!’ It’s true, everyone loves bath time, especially with Rubber Duckie.

Top 10 Things A New Mother Must Know

Last updated on March 16th, 2021 at 03:15 pm

Here are the top things every new mother should know:

  1. Don’t let the baby eat dirt
    (If the baby poops green…don’t worry)
  2. Don’t let the baby eat grass
  3. If the baby screams when you take away the bottle, chances are you didn’t put enough rum in it
  4. Should a rash develop, have yourself checked out immediately
  5. Mother in laws who think you are incompetent give helpful10 things a new mother should know advice can become clumsy around this oughta take care of the old bat accidental kitchen spills
  6. Teething is normal. Stay away from baby if urge continues
  7. Don’t try to pawn the gas smell on the baby. We all know it was you
  8. Mothers and fathers do things differently and that’s o.k. The baby will grow up to know the truth love you both and realize that you are always there for them I do way more
  9. Sucking snot out of baby’s noise is to be expected. Using a straw is not.
  10. If screaming and crying persist, go into another room or you will wake the baby

Safely Introduce Your Dog to Your New Baby

Last updated on September 2nd, 2019 at 07:53 pm

Many couples put off having that first child for a number of reasons: To establish their career, to be more financially stable, some want to buy the house first…… But in their desire to nurture ‘something’, many (myself included) choose to get a dog – and the dog invariably takes on the role of substitute child. In my household, we refer to our dog as our ‘son’, and when we talk to him, we refer to each other as ‘Mommy’ and ‘Daddy.’

But as a professional dog trainer, one call I get quite often is, “We have had our dog for years, and he has always been so good…. Until we brought home the new baby a few months ago. Then his behavior totally changed! I think he is jealous of the baby, and I am afraid for the baby’s safety, I think we are going to have to get rid of the dog.”

How many of us remember the classic Disney movie “Lady and the Tramp”? The scene that always comes to mind for me regarding this subject is when Lady sings, “What Is a Baby?” It actually gives amazing insight into what I, as a trainer, see as the problem.

All rights reserved by Disney – Lady and the tramp (1955)

Prior to the baby coming home, all of the attention and nurturing has been on the dog. If you play the video clip, pay attention to the small things, like how Lady starts off alone downstairs, the lights are off, and none of her people are around. As she climbs the stairs she sings, “They haven’t even noticed that I’m around today”. Then she sees Jim, and gets into a happy begging position… which always got her plenty of attention before, but distracted, he ignores her as he goes down the stairs with the baby bottles. When she arrives at the top of the stairs, she knows her “Mom” is behind the door, but the door is almost closed, and it is the only light on. As she approaches the almost closed door, she sings the last line, “I must find out today, what makes Jim Dear and Darling, act this way.”

So first off, I want to dispel a myth…. Regardless of how it may seem, dogs do not get jealous. This is a human emotion we put on them to explain their behavior. In order to be jealous, there has to be a cognitive thought process…. “They are getting something, I’m not, and it’s not fair!” Sorry folks…. Dogs are just not that complex. For them, it is mostly curiosity…and a somewhat child-like instinct. Like a two-year old they want to be included (“me too, me too”). There are also a ton of new smells, the sound of crying that they are not accustomed to, and let’s not leave out the fact that quite often, as new parents, there is usually a bit of tension when the new baby first comes home. Your dog picks up on this tension, one that was not previously there. Let’s face it….you’ve had 9 months to prepare for this. Isn’t it only fair that you prepare them for this big event as well?

Here are some of the typical ‘bad behaviors’ my customers report to me that their dog is doing…

  • Dog pulls at baby toyJumping up on them when they are holding the baby
  • Nipping at the baby
  • Pulling and yanking on the baby’s clothes
  • Excessive and nuisance barking
  • Growling at the baby
  • Trying to ‘climb’ into their laps while they’re holding the baby, as if the dog were trying to knock the baby off.
  • ‘Pawing’ at the baby
  • Stealing items belonging to the baby

So now, the question becomes “how do you correct these behaviors while balancing a baby in your arms?” The best answer I can give you is not to wait until the baby arrives.

Start prepping the dog in advance for its arrival. Here are some of the ways you can easily accomplish this. Some may feel or seem a bit silly to you, but trust me when I say about 95% of the time, early preparation works.

  1. Get a small box of diapers. Put a few piles in rooms like the bedroom, living room, bathroom, and any other areas you might be typically changing the child’s diaper in the future. A clean diaper has no odor to us, but you better believe it does to a dog that can track a scent for hundreds of miles. This accomplishes two things; it allows your dog to familiarize himself with something that will be around constantly in the very near future, and enables you to correct him if he goes to steal or chew them. If he sniffs it and walks away, this is the appropriate behavior, so make sure you praise him. If he goes to grab it, make a loud noise and in a firm (but not angry) voice say “LEAVE IT!”. If he leaves it alone, praise him.
  1. Get a doll. Get a doll the size of a real-life baby, put a diaper on it, swaddle it, and start walking around the house with it in your arms. As you walk, do the same rocking, cooing and coddling you will be doing for your real baby. More often than not, the dog will get excited and go to jump up and may even go a bit nuts barking. It is important at this moment to remember that your dog is not trying to hurt the baby, but more likely just responding to the same baby talk that you have used on him for the last several years. This is why this practice is so important. Use this time to make whatever corrections are necessary to ensure your real baby will be coming home to a safe environment. With a doll in your arms, you can firmly push him down and tell him, “OFF!” and when he isn’t jumping, tell him “GOOD BOY” and you can bend down to his level with the doll in your arms and let him sniff it. While he is doing that, make sure to tell him, “EASY” and again, praise him.
  1. Sound Effects Another suggestion I offer people is to pull up a sound effect of a baby crying on YouTube, and use your cell phone to record it. The one I have used before is https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6TjmHkVMEdI. Put the doll down either on a blanket on the floor or in the crib if you already have one set up, put your cell phone next to it, play the recording, and watch your dog’s reaction. More often than not, your dog will just sniff at it out of curiosity. If that is all he does, make sure to pet and praise him. If he goes to nudge or paw the doll, correct him by telling him, “EASY” again. Now lie down on the blanket with the doll and the dog. You will see he feels much less threatened when he is included. Continue working on this for a while before bringing your new baby home, and make sure the dog understands the “rules of engagement”
  1. Once baby is born While Mom and baby are still in the hospital for the first few days, have Dad or whoever is watching the dog bring home the real baby’s unlaundered clothes, and even a few dirty diapers. (Yes, I know this is kind of gross.) Put the clothes that the new baby has already worn on the doll so that the dog can get used to the scent. Praise the dog when he sniffs at the doll in the baby’s clothes appropriately, and if the dog goes to grab at the clothes, make the same correction you made earlier. And let the dog sniff the dirty diaper. These are all scents that the dog must get used to… he’ll be around them for awhile!
  1. dog adjusts to babyHomecoming Day The last piece of advice is if Dad has been home with the dog while Mom was away having the baby, Dad should be the one to bring the baby in. Your dog has not seen Mom for a few days and may be excited to see her and jump up on her. Mom needs to greet the dog when she comes in and spend a minute or two with him, but also correct his jumping.

In closing, just remember…. Your dog does not do well with change, so it is up to you to help him adjust to everything prior to it happening. While I have heard at times, “My dog took right to the baby and they have been best friends ever since” … Why take chances when it is easy enough to ensure a good home-coming with a great outcome.

Photo credit: Wayan Vota; CC license

Why Your Newborn Should Have a Blood Screening Test

Last updated on April 26th, 2018 at 03:42 pm

Every baby is offered newborn blood spot screening, also known as the heel prick test, ideally when they’re 5 days old.

Newborn blood spot screening involves taking a blood sample to find out if your baby has one of 9 rare but serious health conditions.

Most babies won’t have any of these conditions but, for the few who do, the benefits of screening are enormous.

Early treatment can improve their health, and prevent severe disability or even death.

What does the blood spot test involve?

When your baby is 5 days old, a health professional will prick their heel and collect 4 drops of blood on a special card.

You can ease any distress for your baby by cuddling and feeding them, and making sure they’re warm and comfortable.

Occasionally, the sample may need to be taken when your baby is 6, 7 or 8 days old.

Sometimes a second blood spot sample is needed. The reason for this will be explained to you. It doesn’t necessarily mean there’s something wrong with your baby.

The test doesn’t carry any known risks for your baby.

Which conditions is the blood spot test for?

The blood spot test screens for the following 9 rare but serious conditions.

If you, your partner or a family member already has one of these conditions (or a family history of it), tell your health professional straight away.

Sickle cell disease

About 1 in 2,000 babies born in the UK** has sickle cell disease. This is a serious inherited blood disease.

Sickle cell disease affects haemoglobin, the iron-rich protein in red blood cells that carries oxygen around the body.

Babies who have this condition will need specialist care throughout their lives.

People with sickle cell disease can have attacks of severe pain and get serious, life-threatening infections. They’re usually anaemic because their blood cells have difficulty carrying oxygen.

The blood spot screening test means that babies with sickle cell disease can receive early treatment to help them live healthier lives. This may include vaccinations and antibiotics to prevent serious illnesses.

Pregnant women are also routinely tested for sickle cell disease early in pregnancy.

Read more about sickle cell disease, or download leaflets for parents whose child has sickle cell disease.

Cystic fibrosis

About 1 in 2,500 babies born in the UK** has cystic fibrosis. This inherited condition affects the digestion and lungs.

Babies with cystic fibrosis may not gain weight well and are prone to chest infections.

Babies with the condition can be treated early with a high-energy diet, medicines and physiotherapy.

Although children with cystic fibrosis may still become very ill, early treatment can help them live longer, healthier lives.

Read more about cystic fibrosis, or download a leaflet for parents whose baby has suspected cystic fibrosis.

Congenital hypothyroidism

About 1 in 3,000 babies born in the UK** has congenital hypothyroidism. Babies with congenital hypothyroidism don’t have enough of the hormone thyroxine.

Without thyroxine, babies don’t grow properly and can develop learning disabilities.

Babies who have the condition can be treated early with thyroxine tablets, and this allows them to develop normally.

See more information about congenital hypothyroidism (CHT).

Inherited metabolic diseases

It’s important to let your health professional know if you have a family history of a metabolic disease (a disease that affects your metabolism).

Babies are screened for 6 inherited metabolic diseases. These are:

About 1 in 10,000 babies born in the UK** has PKU or MCADD. The other conditions are rarer, occurring in 1 in 100,000 to 150,000 babies.

Without treatment, babies with inherited metabolic diseases can become suddenly and seriously ill. The diseases all have different symptoms.

Depending on which one affects your baby, the condition may be life threatening or cause severe developmental problems.

They can all be treated with a carefully managed diet and, in some cases, medicines as well.

Does my baby have to have the blood spot test?

It’s not compulsory, but it’s recommended because it could save your baby’s life.

You can choose to have screening for sickle cell disease, cystic fibrosis or congenital hypothyroidism individually, but you can only choose to have screening for all 6 inherited metabolic diseases or none at all.

If you don’t want your baby to be screened for any of these conditions, discuss it with your midwife.

You should be given information about the blood spot test and the diseases it screens for in advance so you can make an informed decision for your baby.

If you change your mind, babies can be screened up to the age of 12 months for all the conditions except cystic fibrosis. Cystic fibrosis can only be screened for up to 8 weeks of age.

If you have any concerns about the tests, speak to your midwife, health visitor or GP.

When will we get the results?

You should receive the results either by letter or from a health professional by the time your baby is 6 to 8 weeks old.

The results should be recorded in your baby’s personal child health record (red book)(*health records). It’s important to keep this safe and take it with you to all your baby’s appointments.

If you haven’t received your baby’s results, speak to your health visitor or GP(*physician).

You’ll be contacted sooner if your baby screens positive. This means they’re more likely to have one of the conditions tested for.

You’ll be contacted:

  • the day the result is available, or the next working day, if your baby is thought to have congenital hypothyroidism (CHT) – you’ll be given an appointment to see a specialist
  • before your baby’s 4 weeks old if they’re thought to have cystic fibrosis
  • before your baby’s 6 weeks old if they’re thought to have sickle cell disease

Screening for cystic fibrosis finds some babies who may be genetic carriers of the condition. These babies may need further testing.

Screening for sickle cell disease also finds babies who are carriers of this or other red blood cell diseases.

Carriers are healthy, although they can experience problems in situations where their bodies aren’t getting much oxygen – for example, if they’re having an anaesthetic.

Parents of babies who are found to be carriers should be told by the time they’re 6 to 8 weeks old.

Read more about what being a carrier means.

What do the results mean?

Most babies will have a normal result, which means it’s unlikely that they have any of the conditions.

A small number of babies will screen positive for one of the conditions. This doesn’t mean they have the condition, but they’re more likely to have it. They’ll be referred to a specialist for more tests.

It’s important to know that screening isn’t 100% certain. A baby with a negative screening result may later turn out to have the disease screened for. This is known as a false negative.

Babies with a positive result sometimes turn out not to have the disease – what’s known as a false positive.

Occasionally, other medical conditions are picked up by blood spot test screening. For example, babies with beta thalassaemia major, a serious blood disease, will usually be detected. These babies also need to be referred for early treatment.

More information

Editor’s Notes:

*Clarification provided for our US readers

** Resources outside the U.K.

  • For the individual state test conditions and screening programs in the US visit here.
  • For more information on newborn blood screening visit the CDC bulletin here.

 

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk





Struggling With Depression After Childbirth? You are not Alone

Last updated on March 19th, 2018 at 06:03 pm

The baby blues

During the first week after childbirth, many women get what’s often called the ‘baby blues’. Women can feel down or depressed at a time when they expect they should feel happy at having a baby to look after. ‘Baby blues’ are probably due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that take place in your body after childbirth.

Symptoms can include:

  • feeling emotional and irrational
  • bursting into tears for no apparent reason
  • feeling irritable or touchy
  • feeling depressed or anxious

All these symptoms are normal and usually only last for a few days.

Is it postnatal depression?

Depression after a baby is born can be extremely distressing. Postnatal depression is thought to affect around one in 10 women (and up to four in 10 teenage mothers).

Many women suffer in silence. Their friends, relatives and health professionals don’t know how they’re feeling.

Postnatal depression usually occurs two to eight weeks after the birth, though sometimes it can happen up to a year after the baby is born.

Symptoms such as tiredness, irritability or poor appetite are normal if you’ve just had a baby. But these are usually mild and don’t stop you leading a normal life.

When you have postnatal depression, you may feel increasingly depressed and despondent. Looking after yourself or your baby may become too much. Emotional signs of postnatal depression may include:

  • loss of interest in the baby
  • feelings of hopelessness
  • not being able to stop crying
  • feelings of not being able to cope
  • not being able to enjoy anything
  • memory loss or being unable to concentrate
  • excessive anxiety about the baby

Other signs of postnatal depression may also include:

  • panic attacks
  • sleeplessness
  • extreme tiredness
  • aches and pains
  • feeling generally unwell
  • anxiety
  • loss of appetite

Getting help for postnatal depression

If you think you have postnatal depression, don’t struggle alone. It’s not a sign that you’re a bad mother or are unable to cope. Postnatal depression is an illness and you need to get help, just as you would if you had the flu or a broken leg.

Talk to someone you trust, such as your partner or a friend. Or ask your health visitor (*nurse) to call in and visit you. Many health visitors have been trained to recognize postnatal depression and have techniques that can help. If they can’t help, they’ll know someone in your area who can.

It’s also important to see your GP (*physician). If you don’t feel up to making an appointment, ask someone to do it for you.

Treatment for postnatal depression

Milder cases of postnatal depression can be treated with counselling. This can be given by the health visitor or a therapist. More severe cases often require antidepressants and you may need to see a specialist.

It’s important to let your GP know if you’re breastfeeding. If you need to take antidepressants, they’ll prescribe a type of medication that’s suitable while you’re breastfeeding.

You may also find it helpful to contact the Association for Post-Natal Illness or the National Childbirth Trust.

Your local children’s centre can put you in touch with your nearest postnatal group. These groups provide contact with other new mothers and encourage mums to support each other. They offer social activities and help with parenting skills.

Avoiding alcohol

Alcohol may appear to help you relax and unwind. In fact, it’s a depressant that affects your mood, judgement, self-control and co-ordination. It has even more of an effect if you’re tired and run-down. Be careful about when and how much you drink, and don’t drink alcohol if you’re taking anti-depressants or tranquillisers.

Postpartum psychosis

This condition, which is also called puerperal psychosis, is extremely rare. Only one or two mothers in 1,000 develop a severe psychiatric illness that requires medical or hospital treatment after the birth of a baby. This illness can develop within hours of childbirth and is very serious, needing urgent attention.

Other people usually notice it first as the mother often acts strangely. It is more likely to happen if you have a severe mental illness, a past history of severe mental illness or a family history of perinatal mental illness. Specialist mother and baby units can provide expert treatment without separating you from your baby.

Most women make a complete recovery, although this may take a few weeks or months.

Postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

Postnatal post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is often the result of a traumatic birth, such as a long or painful labour, or an emergency or problematic delivery. It can also develop after other types of trauma, such as:

  • a fear of dying or your baby dying
  • life-threatening situations

The symptoms of postnatal PTSD can occur alone or in addition to the symptoms of postnatal depression.

The symptoms can develop straight after the birth or months afterwards.

It’s extremely important to talk to someone about how you’re feeling. Your midwife, GP or health visitor will be able help you. If you’re worried about talking to a health professional, consider asking a close friend or family member to come with you for support.

There are effective treatments available, such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and medications. Read more about treatments for PTSD.

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

NHS Choices logo


From www.nhs.uk





Choosing a C-Section: What Is It and When Is It The Best Option?

Last updated on January 1st, 2018 at 02:49 pm

A caesarean section, or C-section, is an operation to deliver your baby through a cut made in your tummy and womb.

The cut is usually made across your tummy, just below your bikini line.

A caesarean is a major operation that carries a number of risks, so it’s usually only done if it’s the safest option for you and your baby.

Around one in every four to five pregnant women in the UK has a caesarean.*

Why caesareans are carried out

A caesarean may be recommended as a planned (elective) procedure or done in an emergency if it’s thought a vaginal birth is too risky. They’re usually performed after the 38th week of pregnancy.

A caesarean may be carried out because:

  • your baby is in the breech position (feet first) and your doctor has been unable to turn them by applying gentle pressure to your tummy, or you would prefer they didn’t try this
  • you have a low-lying placenta (placenta praevia)
  • you have pregnancy-related high blood pressure (pre-eclampsia)
  • you have certain infections, such as a first genital herpes infection occurring late in pregnancy or untreated HIV
  • your baby isn’t getting enough oxygen and nutrients – sometimes this may mean the baby needs to be delivered immediately
  • your labour isn’t progressing or there’s excessive vaginal bleeding

If there’s time to plan the procedure, your midwife or doctor will discuss the benefits and risks of a caesarean compared with a vaginal birth.

Asking for a caesarean

Some women choose to have a caesarean for non-medical reasons. If you ask your midwife or doctor for a caesarean when there aren’t medical reasons, they will explain the overall benefits and risks of a caesarean compared with a vaginal birth.

If you’re anxious about giving birth, you should be offered the chance to discuss your anxiety with a healthcare professional who can offer support during your pregnancy and labour.

If after discussion and support you still feel that a vaginal birth isn’t an acceptable option, you’re entitled to have a planned caesarean.

What happens during a caesarean

Most caesareans are carried out under spinal or epidural anaesthetic. This mean you’ll be awake, but the lower part of your body is numbed so you won’t feel any pain.

During the procedure:

  • a screen is placed across your body so you can’t see what’s being done – the doctors and nurses will let you know what’s happening
  • a cut about 10-20cm long will usually be made across your lower tummy and womb so your baby can be delivered
  • you may feel some tugging and pulling during the procedure
  • you and you birth partner will be able to see and hold your baby as soon as they’ve been delivered

The whole operation normally takes about 40-50 minutes.

Occasionally a general anaesthetic, where you’re asleep, may be used, particularly if the baby needs to be delivered more quickly.

Read more about how a caesarean is carried out.

Recovering from a caesarean

Recovering from a caesarean usually takes longer than recovering from a vaginal delivery. You might need to stay in hospital for three or four days, compared with one or two days for a vaginal birth.

You may experience some discomfort in your tummy for the first few days, and you’ll be offered painkillers to help with this.

When you go home, you’ll need to take things easy at first. You may need to avoid some activities such as driving for six weeks or so.

The wound in your tummy will eventually form a scar. This may be red and obvious at first, but it should fade with time and will often be hidden in your pubic hair.

Read more about recovering from a caesarean.

Risks of a caesarean

A caesarean is generally a very safe procedure, but like any type of surgery it carries a certain amount of risk.

It’s important to be aware of the possible complications, particularly if you’re considering having a caesarean for non-medical reasons.

Possible complications include:

  • infection of the wound or womb lining
  • blood clots
  • excessive bleeding
  • damage to nearby areas, such as the bladder or the tubes that connect the kidneys and bladder (ureter)
  • temporary breathing difficulties in your baby
  • accidentally cutting your baby when your womb is opened

Read more about the risks of a caesarean.

Future pregnancies after a caesarean

If you have a baby by caesarean, it doesn’t necessarily mean that any babies you have in the future will also have to be delivered this way.

Most women who have had a caesarean section can safely have a vaginal delivery for their next baby, known as vaginal birth after caesarean (VBAC).

However, you may need some extra monitoring during labour just to make sure everything is progressing well.

Some women may be advised to have another caesarean if they have another baby. This depends on whether a caesarean is still the safest option for them and their baby.

For more information, the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has a leaflet on birth options after previous caesarean section (PDF, 357kb).

Editor’s Note: *clarification provided for our US readers.

*1 in 3 pregnant women in the U.S. has a caesarean

 





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