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baby health

Pregnancy myths

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Pregnancy is an exciting time for expectant parents but it can also be a daunting minefield of conflicting professional and personal opinions. As bump grows, mums and dads and grannies and grandpa’s (not to mention colleagues, neighbours and strangers at bus stops) impart their wisdom, asked for or otherwise, and often it is at odds with the midwife’s official guidance.
Spatone natural liquid iron supplement looks at some of these “In my day…” gems of advice to see if any of them still hold true.

Myth 1: How you are ‘carrying’ the baby can tell you the sex.

Nothing could be further from the truth. The shape and height of your bump is determined by your muscle tone, uterine tone, and the position the baby is in, not by the sex. The only way to know is via an ultrasound scan or amniocentesis and even then it is not always possible to be completely sure.

Myth 2: You shouldn’t drink coffee while pregnant.

You don’t need to give up caffeine entirely, the current advice for is to limit yourself to (ACOG 2010, FSA 2008, Jahanfar and Jaafar 2013) 200mg of caffeine a day – this equates to drinking approximately two mugs of tea, two mugs of instant coffee or one mug of filer coffee a day. If your habit exceeds these amounts try a
de-caf version in the afternoons, it may help you sleep better too!
 
Myth 3: Heartburn means baby has lots of hair.

Heartburn is a common discomfort during pregnancy because your stomach is pushed higher by the growing baby. It is no way an accurate predictor of baby being born with a full head of hair. Lots of women who experience heartburn give birth to bald babies!

Myth 4: You shouldn’t eat smoked salmon when pregnant.

Pregnant women can eat smoked fish and are not advised to avoid it currently. Fish is good for mothers-to-be because it is a good source of many vitamins and minerals, as well as essential omega-3 fatty acids like DHA. There are some types of fish you should limit to two portions a week, this includes oily fish like salmon. There are also fish you should completely avoid like swordfish. The NHS website provides a full list.

Myth 5: You are eating for two.

In the first six months of pregnancy our energy needs do not increase. The average woman of normal weight pre-pregnancy only needs about 200 extra calories per day in her third trimester to promote her baby’s growth. That’s roughly the number of calories in a piece of buttered toast and a banana. Gaining too much weight can result in gestational diabetes and a struggle to lose the weight
post birth so think twice
before eating a double helping of dessert!

Myth 6: Lying or sleeping on your back will hurt the baby.

While you won’t harm your baby if you lie on your back for short periods of time, lying on your back after 16 weeks can be uncomfortable. After 16 weeks it can make you feel faint as the baby presses on major blood vessels. Sleeping on your side might be more comfortable and as your bump gets heavier you might find it better to prop yourself up with pillows so you are almost sitting.

Myth 7: Guinness is a good source of iron.

Mums and nans are forever telling us about the daily dose of stout they consumed during pregnancy because it is a good source of iron and a lot of people still believe this old wives tale. In fact Guinness and similar stouts contains no more iron than standard beer and you would need to drink a whopping 35 pints to get your daily intake of iron. But more importantly, pregnant women should avoid alcohol altogether as not only does it carry an increased risk of miscarriage but may be harmful for the unborn baby.

Positively pregnant!

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Pregnancy can stretch you to the maximum, both physically and mentally. It can become easy to focus on the negatives, and aches and pains of pregnancy. Instead, try and see it as nine months to concentrate on good health, motivation, looking after yourself and having some fun.
Never again will people be so willing to help you as they are when you are pregnant. Most people will offer you their seat on the train or bus, and you should accept any offers of help from friends and relatives – you will probably be able to repay the favour in the future.

It is easy to feel less confident about your looks and body when you are pregnant so do what you can to boost your self-esteem. You will need some new maternity clothes anyway, so make the most of the excuse to buy some new outfits. You can always re-use them for future pregnancies, or you can pass them onto pregnant friends. Beauty treatments will help you feel better; even when you have put on all your baby weight, your nails can still look glamorous!

Many women find pregnancy is a good time to look again at their priorities. Pregnancy and giving birth needn’t limit the possibilities, but it gives you a chance to think about what you want for your family in the future. You have a few months to step off the treadmill of life and think about what you want from your life.

Changing hormones may make your hair stronger and thicker, so you may be able to change to a different hair style if you wish. You may want an easy to manage style when baby comes along, so spend some time talking to your hairdresser and enjoy the chance for a change.

The need to look after the baby growing inside you, is sometimes the motivation we need to look after ourselves. It is the right time to develop healthy eating habits and to stop drinking alcohol. Together with moderate exercise, these will all help you to be fitter and better able to cope with the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth. You may have become used to working longer hours, but now is the time to leave work on time, and perhaps have a walk or swim in the evening instead.

Pregnancy can be a time when you become closer to your mum. You will be more able to understand what she went through, and your mum may be the one person that you feel able to talk about certain things with.

Many women make lifelong friends from prenatal groups so find out what is going on
in your area. These are the women who are going through the same experiences as you, at the same time and in the same area, so as well as being an excellent source of information and shared experiences, they may become friends through the whole of your child’s school life and beyond.

Couples often get round to doing things that they have been putting off for a while during pregnancy. Two will soon become three, so make the most of this limited time you now have and go on dates, weekend trips and take time to talk about your hopes and fears about pregnancy and parenting. This is a time when you can become very close, and this time will help bind you together when you have young children and have far less time together.

If all else fails and everything seems wrong, you can blame pregnancy hormones! Indulge yourself, listen to your body and take some time to be spoilt and spoil yourself. You’re pregnant, and with all the highs and lows, you deserve to be pampered and looked after, so make the most of it.

Autism Spectrum Disorder

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Mental health, Relationships | No Comments

A way of life for nearly three million people

by Leila Stayton-Dyke (BSc, PGCert, MSc, BCBA)
Early Action for Autism

Autism affects more than 700,000 people in the UK – that’s over 1% of the population. If you include family members, autism is part of daily life for 2.8 million people throughout the country.

Early recognition is important in order to allow children to reach their full potential
Each person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has different strengths. There is not a fixed set of behaviours which result in a diagnosis of autism. There are a range of traits including difficulty with communication and social skills, and ritualistic behaviours. Diagnosis is far from simple.

Parents of a young child are likely to be given conflicting advice about when developmental milestones should occur. They may be told that ‘children are different, they learn at different rates and in different ways’, so how do we know when developmental delays are part of an underlying condition?

Autism in the early stages of development
It may be difficult to see the early signs of autism as they can be subtle or attributed to a baby simply being laid back.

The initial signs are often related to the baby’s gaze, hearing and play. A young child with autism may appear not to see people, and may look out of the corner of their eye. The child may initially appear to be deaf, but rarely actually has any loss of hearing. Children with autism may also appear to have a general lack of interest in their surroundings.

As children get older the differences in development may become more apparent. Parents may notice a lack of empathy, different reactions to sensory stimuli – for example, finding noises, textures or sensations dramatically over or under stimulating. Refusal to try unfamiliar foods or to eat in unfamiliar settings, remaining in nappies, repetitive play activities and difficulties with the world not being exactly the way they would like, may also be seen.

What should I do if I see these early signs?
Health professionals should listen to all parental concerns. Take a family member or friend to visit your GP or Health Visitor. Go with a list of concerns, no matter how small, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. What you have observed might not be a sign of autism but you know your child best.

Getting a diagnosis of autism will allow children and their families to receive the education, support and services they require as they grow older. Due to the complex nature of autism the process is time consuming. However, there are specialist services and support groups immediately available; take time to talk to other families in a similar situation and join online groups.

Early recognition means that interventions can start. Research has shown that early intervention – programmes such Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), Positive Behaviour Support (PBS), Speech and Language Therapy (SLT), and Occupational Therapy (OT) are highly effective in supporting a child with autism. These evidence-based practices allow children to maximise their potential and reduce the delay from the normal patterns of development.

Children with autism crave sameness and routine, and breaks from that can often cause them to become disruptive – so it’s important that interventions begin as early as possible before these patterns of behaviour become established.

Early intervention ABA programmes are fun, motivating and creative. They successfully develop areas such as communication and social skills. Teaching a child to communicate their immediate desires results in a reduction of difficult problem behaviours and is an essential and ongoing element of an ABA programme. In turn, social skills such as increased eye contact and early conversation skills are taught. When started early, teaching self-help skills enables the child to become as independent as possible, for example, getting themselves dressed in the morning. By targeting selective eating, ABA programmes ensure children have a balanced healthy diet, leading to future long-term health.

Early Action for Autism is a centre for children with autism and related developmental disorders.
We provide specialist 1:1 ABA therapy, programme consultation and individualised training.
www.earlyactionforautism.co.uk

All about baby massage

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Written by Charlotte Morgan www.sweetpeasbaby.co.uk

When discussing the benefits of baby massage, digestive issues and colic are usually the first to arise. It is true, baby massage is fantastic for aiding the digestive system and soothing colicky babies, but there are so many more benefits and it is important that they are not overlooked.

Bonding
The bond between parent and child is the strongest in nature and acts as a lifelong template, moulding and shaping your child to ensure they build successful relationships in the future. While it is a very special and unconditional love, bonding is not always immediate and it is completely normal for it to take days, weeks or even months to nurture this special relationship.

Early positive interaction and touch are incredibly important for babies. Touch is their most developed sense at birth and through massage you can communicate love, security and trust to your baby immediately. During massage, parents use positive touch, eye contact, talking/singing and exchange of smells to help to develop their unique attachment and build a loving relationship.

Massaging your baby provides a period of mutual pleasure and focused one-to-one time for both parent and baby to enjoy which enables your baby to feel comfortable and trusting.

This focused time also gives parents the opportunity to observe their baby so they can start to recognise the subtle, non-verbal language they use, and develop their ability to listen to their baby. When parents can understand these cues, and respond to their needs in a positive way, their confidence will start to grow, which can feel very empowering.

Relaxation
When you massage your baby your body releases ‘feel good’ hormones which help you both to relax. Gentle massage is very calming and can help to reduce tension, restlessness and irritability, as well as promoting sleep – enabling babies to fall asleep faster, longer and more deeply.

When a baby is upset or tense, their sympathetic nervous system is activated, which releases stress hormones like adrenaline as a baby prepares for fight or flight. When massaging, cuddling or holding your baby you activate their parasympathetic system, which works against the sympathetic nervous system to restore relaxation by releasing restful hormones like oxytocin and endorphins.

As parents learn massage techniques it increases their ability to help relax their baby in times of stress or distress. Oxytocin has the power to soothe, relax and calm your baby, and even makes you feel more chemically attracted to them.

Development
Baby massage stimulates and supports your baby’s physical, emotional and social development in several ways.

By boosting circulation, you will stimulate all the systems within their body, ensuring the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to cells, tissues, fibres and organs, helping them to work more efficiently and strengthening muscles and bones.

The immune system is also strengthened by increased stimulation of the lymphatic system, which is responsible for fighting off infection and disease. Babies who are massaged regularly show more weight gain as they have better immune systems and are less likely to be sick.

When babies are born they have no control, co-ordination, emotional thought or awareness of their body. Because their skin is covered in nerve endings, every time they are massaged we are sending messages to their brain to help them understand where their limbs are and how to control them, therefore developing co-ordination, movement and body awareness.

Through stimulation of the skin, the process of myelination is also sped up, enhancing neurological and motor development. Tactile stimulation also improves sensory awareness through touch, eye contact, smell and sound, helping to teach babies about communication, speech and language.

Relief
As mentioned above, relief from the discomfort of digestive pain is the most commonly known benefit of baby massage, and massaging the liver and abdomen increases bowel movement by aiding the digestion and excretion of waste. However, massage can also be used for the relief of discomfort associated with teething, colds, congestion and dry skin.

By using special massage techniques around the eyes, cheeks, nose and chest, the pain associated with teething, colds and congestion can all be relieved, and by using nutritious oils during massage the condition of the skin can be improved as you remove dead skin cells, stimulate the sebaceous glands, open pores and lubricate the skin. Stimulation of the skin through massage also increases the production of endorphins which helps to reduce pain and tension.

The benefits of baby massage are so varied and it is a very natural, relaxing and enjoyable way to spend one-to-one time with your baby. Once the techniques have been learnt massage is a fantastic way to connect with your baby at any point in the day, as well as offering relief when needed and encouraging development. I would urge anyone to give it a try!

Charlotte Morgan is the founder of Sweet Pea’s Baby Massage,
a local company who teach baby massage as weekly, one-to-one
or groups at home classes.
Please visit www.sweetpeasbaby.co.uk
for more information or to book online today.

 

 

Summer safety

By | baby health, children's health, Health, Uncategorized | No Comments

Water fascinates young children and it can be a source of great fun and exercise but sadly each year we hear of children drowning at home and abroad.

Even the most caring of parents can become distracted and it only takes three minutes to drown face-down in water, so even if your children are only playing in a paddling pool or if you have a garden with a pond, always supervise them, and if you need to nip inside to answer the door or go to the toilet, take them with you.

The opportunity to swim in the sea or pool is one of the highlights of going on holiday with children, but before you go do check whether the pool has a lifeguard and once there make sure you understand local water safety signs. If you are going to the beach, it is worthwhile asking the hotel reception or tourist information officer which beach offers the safest place to swim. When you first get to a new pool, take a few minutes to check which end is the deep end and to find out if it has a life guard or pool attendant, as their duties differ.

Although children need constant supervision near water, they will be safer if they can swim and know how to get themselves out of difficulty, so book your child into swimming lessons as soon as you can.

The other danger in the summer comes from the sun. Exposing your child to too much sun may increase their risk of skin cancer later in life and in the short term sunburn can cause considerable pain and discomfort.

Tips to keep you child safe in the sun
• Encourage your child to play in the shade – for example, under trees – especially between 11am and 3pm, when the sun is at its strongest.
• Keep babies under the age of six months out of direct sunlight, especially around midday.
• Cover exposed parts of your child’s skin with sunscreen, even on cloudy or overcast days. Use one that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 or above and is effective against UVA and UVB. Don’t forget to apply it to their shoulders, nose, ears, cheeks, and the tops of their feet. Reapply often throughout the day.
• Be especially careful to protect your child’s shoulders and the back of their neck when they’re playing, as these are the most common areas for sunburn.
• Cover your child up in loose cotton clothes, such as an oversized T-shirt with sleeves.
• Get your child to wear a floppy hat with a wide brim that shades their face and neck.
• Protect your child’s eyes with sunglasses that meet the British Standard (BSEN 1836:2005) and carry the ‘CE’ mark – check the label.
• If your child is swimming,
use a waterproof sunblock of factor 15 or above. Reapply
after towelling.

Information taken from www.nhs.uk