Category

Health

Now you are a parent should you expect a post-baby drop in relationship satisfaction?

By | Education, family, Mental health, Relationships
by Agnes Munday
Friends Centre

A new baby brings a lot of joy but many couples struggle with adjusting to parenthood. Almost overnight, spontaneity vanishes as the responsibilities of the co-ownership of a demanding small business with one very cranky little customer hits home.

Dozens of studies highlight the drop in happiness and relationship satisfaction following the birth of a child, pointing to a larger decline than found for life events like divorce and unemployment.

Women tend to report more of a post-baby drop in relationship satisfaction than men do, and their satisfaction plummets earlier than men’s. Tiredness, financial strains, never-ending housework, isolation and arguments about child rearing all take a toll and stress levels can sharply increase.

Birth preparation and parenting classes offer little focus on couples’ relationships.
Most of us are unprepared and feel lost as to where to find
help. Despite the gloomy forecast, there is a lot that can be done to strengthen your relationship before or after the arrival of children.

Here are a few examples:
• Regularly list the things you most admire in each other, find way of saying “I love you’” every day and try not to go to sleep without some show of affection.

• Over time, our fondness and admiration for each other can get buried under layers of negativity, hurt feelings, and betrayal. By reviving the positive feelings that still lie deep below, you can strengthen your bond enormously and create a shield that can protect your relationship from being overwhelmed by any negativity that exists between you.

Try to make a stress-reducing conversation part of your daily ritual as a couple.
Take it in turns to discuss for ten minutes each a recent or upcoming stress in each of your lives, such as an upcoming job deadline. While one talks, the other listens with the intent to understand and offer support (not advice) – show genuine interest, maintain eye contact, ask open ended questions, and communicate understanding and solidarity. Swap after ten minutes.

When you are criticised (or feel critisised) by your partner, instead of immediately defending yourself, take a step back and say: What do you need? Aim to help your partner feel validated and understood.

Use non violent communication skills.
When I see/I hear you say that ________, I feel ________, because my need for ________ is/is not met. Would you be willing to ________?

Discuss with your partner:
What makes you feel appreciated?
What do you like best and least in your relationship?
How would it look if things were better as a couple?
What would you, or I be
doing differently?

• An argument about who does the dishes or puts the baby to bed is rarely just about that. It is more likely to be about how much one partner is feeling valued and cared for in the relationship, accepted for who they are, or about ongoing commitment to each other.

• Pay a different kind of attention to your experiences: without judging them as good or bad: Focus on sights, sounds, and smells, as well as to internal bodily sensations, thoughts and feelings.

• Pay attention and respond positively to the majority of your partner’s bids for your attention, affirmation or affection. Couples who do
this are much more likely to
stay together.

• Don’t leave home without a kiss that lasts at least six seconds, the time needed for a reduction in stress hormones.

• Attend a Family Learning Partners to Parents or Parent Present course. Our courses are either free or very affordable (see advert) and have been described as
life changing!

Friends Centre is an independent adult education organisation and charity based in Brighton. We offer courses in Family Learning Arts & Crafts, Health & Happiness and more, at our two main learning centres and a range of community venues.
www.friendscentre.org

The great tea tonic

By | Food & Eating, Health

Tea really is the best drink of the day – not just for its refreshing taste, but even more so for its powerful ability to help curb and combat a raft of health challenges and improve our general well-being.

Scientists are finding a growing body of evidence to show just how powerful components in tea are in helping ease common health woes and keeping both the mind and body in good condition.

A report – Brew Knew That? For Good Health, It’s Always Tea Time – compiled by the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), explores the latest ground-breaking science and studies around the health benefits of tea.

The health-enhancing flavonoids obtained from just two cups of tea a day reduces the risk of death from all-causes of mortality by 40%, according to research published in the American Journal of Nutrition. Studies have found that drinking tea is associated with a reduced risk of cancer, heart disease, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic inflammation – which is recognised as a factor in many age-related health issues. Studies show it may even aid weight control and influence fat distribution.

Dietitian and a member of the Tea Advisory Panel (TAP), Dr Carrie Ruxton says: “Tea is the ultimate superfood as it provides around 80% of the flavonoids in the UK diet and 70% of our dietary fluoride, unlike other superfoods which are expensive and have questionable claims about supposedly being packed with antioxidant flavonoids”
Flavonoids are natural plant components that have a strong link with a number of health benefits, thought to be due to their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory and anti-carcinogenic properties. Laboratory studies show that just one cup of tea delivers the same flavonoid activity as two apples, three and a half glasses of orange juice or 10 glasses of long-life apple juice. Another, which focused on the oxidative stress which has a role in making arteries harden, found the flavonoids in tea were more potent antioxidants than vitamin C, vitamin E and beta carotene.

Professor Philip Calder, Professor of Nutritional Immunology within Medicine at the University of Southampton and a guest advisor to the Tea Advisory Panel, notes: “Tea and other herbal tea infusions are such familiar friends, we often overlook the number, and range, of health benefits they bring to the table. Two of the biggest drivers for illness and age-related physical and cognitive decline are oxidation and inflammation, and tea helps combat both.

“It’s no wonder that drinking tea on a regular basis reduces the risk of so many health issues and barely a month goes by without fresh evidence of the benefits of a brew.”

Mind and body benefits
Dementia, heart disease, diabetes and cancers are all on the increase as a result of our ageing population, sedentary lifestyles and burgeoning levels of obesity. Health and wellbeing specialist, Dr Catherine Hood from TAP, says: “Sustained lifestyle changes are required to reverse these trends, but this often begins with baby-steps and one very simple and effective way to reduce your risk is to drink tea on a daily basis.”

Tea has been shown to:
1. Potentially cut the risks of dementia or delay its onset.
2. Enhance cognition and memory.
3. Reduce depression and anxiety.
4. Cut the risk of heart and circulation problems by up to 20% – some studies have found it could even be as high as 45%.
5. Cut the risk of type 2 diabetes – studies indicate the beneficial effect could be between 16%
and 33%.
6. Aid weight control – thought to be because of the catechin content and because of positive changes in the gut bacteria.
7. Help tackle high blood pressure – one study found drinking black tea could have a 10% effect at reducing blood pressure, while another found drinking green tea could reduce the risk by 46%.
8. Improve oral health – one study found tea helped with 40% reduction in dental decay risk and there is evidence tea can combat bad breath, and reduce inflammation, bone reabsorption and the growth of bacteria association with gum disease.
9. Help protect eyesight – research shows tea can reduce the risk of glaucoma and could reduce the risk of cataracts.
10. Give bones better protection – tea drinkers tend to have stronger bones and researchers reported that tea appeared to improve bone mineral density, especially in the spine, hip and neck. A further study also found that tea consumption may help reduce the risk of osteoporosis.

For more information see www.teaadvisorypanel.com

SATs stress mess

By | children's health, Education

A survey of 297 primary school teachers reveals the need for policy makers to listen to teachers, as the majority of school leaders fear that exam pressure is leading to an increase in mental health issues amongst the UK’s youngest students.
A recent survey by primary resource provider PlanBee has found that 91% of UK primary school teachers believe that primary-level SATs results matter most to the government, and least to parents and children.

The question, ‘Who do SATs results matter to more, in your opinion?’ was answered by 297 KS1 primary teachers between 16 May and 21 May, in the midst of 2018 SATs test dates.

It comes after thousands of parents across the country considered a SATs boycott and concerns have been raised by the National Education Union (NEU) over the government’s new literacy and numeracy tests for four year olds, who voted to explore ways of disrupting the pilots this April.

The survey results have shown:
• 91% of teachers believe that primary SATs results matter most to the government.
• Just 8% of teachers feel that primary SATs results matter to schools.
• 0% of 297 teachers believe that primary SATs results matter to children involved.

PlanBee’s survey validates the remarks of Ofsted’s chief inspector Amanda Spielman, who claimed in 2017 that schools’ focus on testing is damaging to education. She admitted that Ofsted were partly to blame, claiming that testing causes headteachers to “focus on the performance of the school and lose sight of the pupil”.

Former primary school teacher and current Head of Communications at PlanBee, Oli Ryan said, “The results of the survey are striking. Once again, it shows that policy makers need to listen to teachers. Too much pressure is placed on children to achieve during SATs, and it’s clear from this survey that they are the ones who benefit least from them.

“It’s evident that stress and anxiety levels among children is rising, and that pressure to achieve during SATs can contribute to this. A much greater emphasis on promoting pupil well-being in schools is needed.

“Teachers can’t affect this fundamental change on their own. A unified strategy for prioritising children’s well-being in schools needs to come from the DfE, the Standards & Testing Agency and Ofsted, too. As the House of Commons Education and Health Committees recently reported, the government needs to do more. A greater emphasis on giving children life skills for their own well-being will help them achieve academically, too.”

Research by YouGov for campaign group More Than A Score looked at the impact of SATs on the well-being of children and their education.
It polled 596 parents of children aged seven to 14 to understand the pressures children face as a result of SATs. 63% of those surveyed said that their children face too much exam pressure, and only 13% agreed with SATs in their current form.

In an exclusive statement, More Than A Score spokesperson, Madeleine Holt said: “Our polling confirms what parents have been telling us for years: SATs are damaging and pointless. Now we see even six and seven-year-olds worrying about tests. Surely learning is about more than getting a perfect score? Children need a broad and rich curriculum that encourages them to be excited about learning, not terrified of failing at such a young age.”

“With the status of a school and teachers’ pay so closely linked to SATs results, it’s no wonder so many are teaching to the test. The SATs regime is inhibiting children’s learning as SATs revision begins to dominate the timetable. Our primary school children in England are already some of the most tested in the world. This results in stress and anxiety in children, narrows the curriculum and distracts teachers from doing their job: teaching.

“That’s why we are calling for the government to scrap SATs, and commission an independent and expert review to produce recommendations for primary school assessments that are fit or purpose.”

Mindfulness matters

By | children's health, Education, Health, Mental health, Relationships
by Claudine Lacroix
The Mindful Me Club

How can mindfulness help you and your family deal with the increasing pressures of modern living.

Time
The clock is ticking, the children aren’t dressed and you find yourself shouting as you are feeling the pressure that you are going to be late for work. How many hours in our day do we run around being driven by the clock? Often it is not until we are on a holiday, perhaps looking at a beautiful sunset or a stunning view that we may allow our minds to stop for a moment of calm, then it may only be a matter of moments before we revert back to being consumed by uncontrollable thoughts and worries of the
past or future. A mind consumed with things we need to do, have done already or think we could have done better, is all too common.

Our children
For our children, it is not uncommon to be stressed as a result of trying to deal with such difficulties as: parents fighting, divorcing or separating, themselves being bullied, undergoing school stress, money worries, a new sibling or fear of the future. For both parent and child, living in this way can cause a lifetime of chronic stress and anxiety that can often lead to many ailments such as insomnia, depression and suppressed immunity.

The body and mind connection
The understanding that stress can induce illness and the impact that our mind has on our health, are certainly not new ideas. It has been recognised for many years in such fields as behavioural medicine, psychoneuroimmunology, hypnotherapy and Chinese medicine that the way that we think and feel, has a significant effect on our physical health. Jon Kabat-Zinn is an American professor of medicine and the creator of the Stress Reduction Clinic and recognised for his extensive work using mindfulness with patients to relieve stress, pain, anxiety and illness. His book, ‘The Full Catastrophe’ provides an in-depth background to mindfulness and it’s benefits on the body.

So, you might be asking what is mindfulness and how can it help my family and I?
Mindfulness is an effective, yet simple practice that involves the repetition of basic techniques including conscious breathing, movement and listening. It is done in a self-directed training programme and results in developing greater acceptance and awareness of the present moment. As a result of repeated practice, a sense of calm, self-acceptance and a change of perspective can occur benefiting both mind and body. One learns to step back from worried thoughts and stresses, responding rather than reacting to life’s challenges. Children too, can learn techniques to help them to deal with difficult emotions and negative thought patterns. Through teaching some simple facts about the brain and its connection to these thought patterns the children can feel more in control, develop resilience, self-acceptance and emotional awareness. Children learn that they don’t need to hide or suppress their feelings but can manage and understand them instead. Parents and children can do some of the techniques and mindful activities together, making it part of the family day. The techniques not only include the conscious breathing, listening and moving, mentioned earlier, but also sharing feelings and experiences and talking about them together.

As long as you can breathe and you have the willingness and discipline to practice then that’s all you need. The practice may, at the very least, create a space in your day to relax but it’s also possible, with regular practice, to experience a more constant state of calm that filtrates into all areas of your life and has some noticeable beneficial effects on your health and lifestyle choices. At the very best, you will awaken to the truth and beauty that is available to you in each moment and that could change your life.

Claudine Lacroix is a mother, aromatherapist, English teacher and Mindfulness practitioner having recently studied humanistic counselling at the Gestalt Centre, London. Claudine provides mindfulness classes in local primary schools, private classes outside of school hours and provides one to one sessions with adults, teenagers and children.
Claudine Lacroix runs The Mindful Me Club – to find out more or book a class in Brighton call 07341 565 445 or email themindfulmeclub@gmail.com or visit Facebook page: The Mindful Me Club.

Welcome to teenagehood

By | family, Mental health
by Anne Guillot
Teen Breathe magazine
Illustration by Anieszka Banks

Neither child nor adult, the adolescent years require careful navigation

Children grow quickly. One day you have a smiling baby, the next a moody, unpredictable, almost unknowable child. What’s happened? Was it something you did (or didn’t) do? How did you get this parenting thing so wrong? It could be you’re asking yourself the wrong questions. Perhaps it’s not about you, but it is about them. Have you thought they might be making their grand entrance into teenagehood?

Although it’s never too late to try to understand the world from their perspective, missing or ignoring early signs of adolescence can deepen any distance you might start to feel later on. Preparing yourself, on the other hand, can help to avoid misunderstandings and confrontation. If the early phases of childhood change come rather naturally, completing one milestone at a time, the preteen years (between nine and 12) mark a time of accelerating change and tremendous challenge. As they learn to navigate this precarious passage into adulthood, they instinctively become more sensitive and self-conscious as they endeavour to discover who they really are.

How can you possibly understand them if they don’t even know themselves? Think back to your teenage years. Can you remember the happy times? And what about the difficult situations you had to overcome, the indecision, the embarrassment and the failure? Mostly, can you recall the intense emotions and overwhelming confusion? It wasn’t always easy, but eventually, you made it to the other side. It’s an inevitable part of growing up, so it’s important to let them go – slowly and surely – and allow them the freedom to explore the world by themselves (to some extent). In this way, they’ll develop their personality as they learn from their experiences, misjudgements and mistakes. It can be a lonely and scary journey, so try to be there to accompany them, but as a mentor rather than an enemy.

There will still be times when it seems they’ve closed off from you, especially as you struggle to communicate constructively. Parenting teenagers in the digital age is challenging, but try not to let them withdraw into the online world – or their shell. Be patient and let them know they can always talk calmly and openly to you. If they do open up, make the time to listen – without prejudging them or the situation. Be sympathetic, avoid criticism, and try to bridge the generational differences by showing interest in their life while sharing aspects of your own. Work with not against them. If you stay open-minded and respect their opinions, they’re more likely to trust your judgments and appreciate your advice.

Finding one’s place in the world is difficult for anyone, even more so a teenager struggling with physiological and emotional upheaval. It isn’t their fault either. The teenage brain is culpable; as well as undergoing a significant rewiring and restructuring phase, it is under the influence of new, raging hormones.

Dr Frances Jensen, neuroscientist and author of The Teenage Brain, explains: “Teenagers make much more sense when you understand that the frontal lobes of the brain – the part responsible for judgment, impulse control, mood and emotions – is the last part to fully develop. So the brain just doesn’t know how to regulate itself yet. They’re like Ferraris with weak brakes.”

When you add peer pressure, body-image anxieties, bullying and the more negative aspects of social media to the mix it’s unsurprising that teenagers view the path to independence and confidence as tortuous and never-ending. If you can give them the assurance, encouragement and guidance they need, however, then in a few years’ time, they should be ready to face the world on their own terms.

Teen Breathe is the only wellbeing magazine for teenagers. It’s packed with engaging, informative articles to help them discover who they are as well as tips, ideas and activities designed to inspire and encourage them to aim high and dream big. Available in your local magazine retailer and online.

Find us @teenbreathe or visit
www.teenbreathe.co.uk/abc-magazine
to view your exclusive free sample!

The importance of a broad and balanced education

By | children's health, Education, Sport
by Mr Adrian Perks, Headmaster
St. Andrew’s School, Woking

In a world which seems increasingly to be driven by social media with its limiting and somewhat populist and opinionated messages, I have been concerned for some time that our children are increasingly isolated from a reality which still requires a broad and holistic view of the world to provide balance and clarity. There remains therefore, in our opinion, a significant need for our young children to be exposed to educational experiences which allow them to explore and investigate areas of learning. This will provide them with the tools to make better informed judgements in the course of their young lives.

This journey of broad discovery essentially starts at primary and indeed pre-primary level and provides all children with the opportunity to seek out and explore areas of interest and to develop talent which provide many with a lifelong love of learning. Over the years I have spoken to many parents whose main requirement, when considering the options for their children, is to ensure their children are happy. Happiness and thus mental health are of key importance in a world of increased pressure and expectations. Children supported and nurtured and indeed loved within their school will automatically have a head start and hopefully will develop a hunger for knowledge. Of course the breadth of study and the balance of the curriculum is also key and provides the option for all to explore their individual burgeoning interests. All children develop academically at a different pace. On many occasions I have had to reassure anxious parents that their child is not a failure because they are struggling with their spellings or their fractions. These are just moments in time in the life of a young person and should not be the basis of perceived success nor failure.

Confidence is key together with a large dose of resilience. So your child isn’t going to win a Spelling Bee! But watch them play their musical instrument with pride and courage or hear them sing in front of an admiring audience. Look at their artwork and wonder at their developing sensitivity. Stand back in awe at their prowess on the hockey field and feel proud at their selfless teamwork and support for others. Marvel at their enthusiasm for their castle project in history or their ability to recite verse in French or Spanish. And admire them on the stage in the school production as a child you barely recognise as the one who you take home every day from school!

The impact of a broad and balanced curriculum is felt in so many areas and over the years as a Headmaster I have noticed a massive positive change in our children as a result of our focus on providing a broad curriculum. It is simple – not every child will be a star in maths or English but opportunity and encouragement in other equally important areas inevitably lights a flame. A flame which hopefully will burn brightly as the years pass by. The important aspect being the interest nurtured by allowing children to shine in areas other than the core boosts confidence. This is the key to learning and results in commendable achievement across the academic spectrum. Many schools have redoubled their efforts in these areas and have reaped the rewards for their pupils. Over the years our children have achieved significant recognition through scholarship or otherwise in many areas. Indeed this year we were fortunate enough to receive a record number of scholarships in art, drama, music and sport together with academic awards. I strongly believe that in a non-selective environment children are the beneficiaries of a structure which sets high expectations but more importantly provides a broad base for knowledge and ultimately confidence. A healthy antidote perhaps, to a judgmental world.

St. Andrew’s School is a respected and thriving co-educational Nursery, Pre-Prep and Prep school for girls and boys aged 3-13. St. Andrew’s seeks to create a nurturing and happy environment of trust and support in which all pupils are encouraged and enabled to develop their skills, talents, interests and potential to the full.
Next open mornings:
Saturday 3rd November 2018
and Friday 15th March 2019.
www.st-andrews.woking.sch.uk

Why teaching kindness is so important

By | Education, family, Mental health

Kindness and empathy are vital qualities to develop in children from a very early age, as they’re key to all of their interactions with others both at home and in other environments. Equipping children with the skills they need to demonstrate empathy and kindness will help them form friendships, work well with others, be more resilient, confident and have high self-esteem.
Former teacher and creator of Education for Social Responsibility learning
resources at PlanBee, Oli Ryan, shares his tips from the classroom on how to teach children the value of kindness.

1. Encourage empathy
A young child can find empathy a challenging emotion as their first instincts are to be egocentric in their early social interactions. However, developing emotional intelligence is crucial if they are to understand why we should be kind. Here are a few ways to encourage early awareness of empathy at home:

Start by simply asking young children to notice the emotions of others and describe them. You can refer to TV characters or others around them to explore a range of emotions. Ask what are they doing, how they may feel, how would they feel in the same situation and what could have been done differently to show kindness. Building up these social cues from an early age will greatly assist in their long-term emotional development.

After infancy, older children tend to be more capable of feeling empathy. An effective strategy which great teachers often use to resolve spats between children at school is to explain how empathy can help children find their own solutions to their problems. Disputes with young children often revolve around whether or not they feel something is ‘fair’. Try not to use this language when dealing with arguments between siblings or friends. Instead, ask them to put themselves in the place of the other person. What would make things better for them? Is it something that they can work out together? Shifting the discussion away from whether something is fair or unfair and focusing on finding acceptable solutions is empowering, but it does take time and consistency.

If you notice your child has done something considerate, make sure they know that it hasn’t gone unnoticed! Take a moment to speak to them personally: ”I noticed you said this, and I just wanted to say how kind and considerate you are – keep it up!”

2. Explore the power of words
We’ve all got upset when we’ve misread a text from a friend or relative, without fully understanding what they might have meant. It’s important to equip children with the skills to express themselves confidently, clearly and most importantly, accurately. We can’t be there all the time to monitor every interaction that our children have, but we can introduce them to language that will help them to express their emotions more effectively:

Role-play in the early years is an important part of a child’s education. Games, like playing shopkeepers or school teachers, gradually teach them how to respond to requests and different needs, whilst expanding their vocabularies for clearer interaction.

Sharing positive words can have a profound effect on the way we feel, but they can be challenging to express. Compliments in particular trigger the reward centres in the brain, and each one is an incredibly simple but effective way to express genuine kindness. In the classroom, teachers play the compliment game: they ask their students to throw a ball around the room and to give a compliment every time they make a throw. Try doing this at home to practise feel-good kindness with all the family.

3. Demonstrate kindness
Equipping children with the skills to go out and demonstrate kindness to others is vital for their confidence and resilience. If they can reach out to someone and be kind to them, they will feel very confident in social situations and group activities.

Here are two simple approaches to adopt:
• Make your children aware of others who might want to engage in play activities, but are unsure. Encouraging your child to include others in play
is a great way to help them build friendships and empathy for others.

• ‘Being the bigger person’ is a powerful strategy for children. Reward children with specific, personal praise when they share something, resolve an argument themselves, or include other children in play. Hopefully, we can all remember what it felt like to receive specific praise about our good behaviour or our maturity when we were young ourselves!

Looking for more information and ideas on how to encourage education for social responsibility at home and in the classroom? Become a PlanBee member to gain access to an extensive range of KS1 and KS2 lesson resources.
www.planbee.com

The importance of sleep for children and parents

By | baby health, children's health, Relationships

Did you know that you can live longer without food than you can without sleep? As parents, our children and their behaviours can be a constant source of worry, yet parents are much more likely to seek professional help if their child won’t feed or eat, than if they don’t sleep well.

by Becky Goman
Child Sleep Expert

When you have a baby, you expect to have sleepless nights. It’s just part of the course of being a parent. But at what point does poor sleeping start to become problematic? As a mother with a son who thought ‘snoozing was losing’, I know first-hand what happens when you don’t get enough sleep. For me it involved a lot of crying, time off work and ready meals! Sleep deprivation is quite simply awful. Historically it has been used as a form of torture and has been thought to be responsible for some of the world’s worst disasters.
Research suggests that between 20-30 % of all infants and toddlers will have some sleep issues and of those, 84% will continue to have sleep problems until the age of five unless something is done to help. That’s a lot of sleepless nights!

Sleep allows our bodies to repair and our brains to consolidate learning. Poor sleep is linked to weakened immune systems, so it’s no surprise that tired families feel like they pick up every bug going.

If a child is sleep deprived, they may become irritable and more likely to have tantrums. Maybe it is not such a coincidence that the ‘terrible twos’ is the age when a child usually stops napping in the day? Children who do not get enough sleep may also be more likely to suffer emotional and behavioural difficulties and there can also be a significant impact on a child’s development.

Sleep studies show that without the right amount of sleep, children are less likely to be able to retain information or learn new skills, due to lack of concentration.

Signs that your child may be sleep deprived include; excessive yawning, ‘bad’ behaviour, poor appetite and catching more colds or bugs than usual. Whilst in some cases there are genuine medical reasons for the above or indeed for poor sleeping, for the majority of children, poor sleeping is habitual. Things that ‘worked’ to get your child sleeping as an infant, can suddenly stop working, leaving you trying a multitude of new ways to try and get your child to sleep. It is often at this point, when the parents feel they have tried everything, that they give up trying to make positive changes, accepting that their child is only young for a short time and that they will laugh about this when they are trying to drag their teenager out of bed for school!

The good news is that there are simple and effective ways to ensure your child is getting enough sleep and is developing healthy sleep habits. A good simple bedtime routine and a consistent approach can make the world of difference in just a few weeks, or sometimes less. If you can get your child sleeping well, this will be life-changing not just for you but for your child as well. It will improve so many other aspects of your life – work, relationships and health – and make a difference to your child’s health and development too. Parents I have worked with have said: “The change is amazing, I never thought our baby could be one of those magic babies that sleeps through the night.”

“Becky’s wonderful advice and support soon had our son in a clockwork routine which not only meant we had our nights back, our son became more alert and happy.”

“Teaching our son to sleep properly was one of the best decisions we have ever made.”

Becky Goman is a fully certified Child Sleep Consultant and founder of The Independent Child Sleep Expert, who has helped families all  over the UK get more sleep.
For a FREE initial 15 minute consultation call 07770 591159 or email becky@theindependentchildsleepexpert.com.
Or for more information visit the website www.theindependentchildsleepexpert.com

Marvellous Marvellous massage

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Mental health, Relationships

Parent experience and research show there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage – emotional, physical and social. Here I will focus on three key benefits to learning how to massage your baby.

Bonding and attachment
The ancient art of baby massage incorporates touch, eye contact, verbal communication and the expression of love and respect. This, combined with focused one-to-one time promotes the bond between a parent and their baby.

Baby massage can also help promote sibling bonding in the same way that it promotes the parent/baby bond – through eye contact, nurturing touch and communicating love.

Baby massage is a great way for families experiencing periods of separation to reconnect with their baby. For example, baby massage offers parents working away, or working long hours, the opportunity to reassure their baby of their loving affection and give them time to refocus on home life and relax in their baby’s company.

Relieve and promote
By stimulating their baby’s bodily systems (including circulatory, digestive, lymphatic and respiratory), through baby massage parents can help to ease their baby’s colic, wind, constipation and digestion.

Using touch, parents can also soothe teething pains and growing pains and relieve psychological and muscular tension in their baby.

Babies who are massaged are reported to have improved balance and coordination, plus improved muscle development and tone. This can support movement as they grow.

Baby massage also promotes improved sleep patterns and deeper sleep for your baby, which brings me to the benefits of baby massage for you.

For you The International Association of Infant Massage (IAIM) classes are for babies from birth to one. Classes are baby-led, which means that it doesn’t matter if class time coincides with nap or meal times. Parents are encouraged to follow their baby’s cues and comfort their baby as needed. All babies are welcome with all of their emotions and ways of expressing them.

It can be nerve wracking leaving the house with a baby; an IAIM baby massage class offers a safe space where everyone is welcome and accepted. It is also a great opportunity for you to get out of the house and meet with other like-minded parents and drink a nice hot cup of tea.

Attending classes with your baby is known to break feelings of isolation that many parents feel when they have a baby. The IAIM baby massage program specifically has been shown to promote recovery from post-natal depression.

When parents massage their baby the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) reduces and the levels of oxytocin (the love hormone) increases in both the parent and the baby. This reaction reduces stress and helps to promote bonding.

The interaction encouraged by baby massage can also help parents better understand their baby’s non-verbal language and feel more confident in responding to their baby’s unique needs.

In learning baby massage, you learn a new skill. A skill you can use long after your course has finished – to soothe growing pains, for example. You will also be shown how to adapt the IAIM massage strokes to suit your growing child.

Longer term, research has shown that infants who receive nurturing touch through baby massage grow up to be healthier, more empathic and happier adults.

As you can see there are many wonderful benefits of baby massage, and this is by no means an exhaustive list.

If you would like further information about the benefits of baby massage, or how to find your nearest classes, please contact your local Certified Infant Massage Instructor through the IAIM website.
We are always happy to help!

Cheryl Titherly Certified Infant Massage Instructor with IAIM
Cai Baby Massage caibaby.co.uk @caibabysussex cheryl@caibaby.co.uk

Don’t just Google it!

By | baby health, children's health, Education, Health, prenancy

Search engines like Google and Bing are more likely than any other source of information to provoke anxiety during pregnancy, according to research.

A survey of 300 mums who have given birth in the past five years published in the UK Maternity Report by the UK’s leading private midwifery services provider, Private Midwives, revealed that search engines were more likely than any other source to provide information which causes further worry and anxiety.

The news comes following midwife, lecturer and advisor to BBC’s Call the Midwife, Terri Coates, revealed that the Internet was stopping women from turning to their professional midwife for advice.

As many as 41% reported this was the case, while almost the same number (38%) said they had read information about pregnancy in online forums such as groups and chat boards which had caused them concern.

Despite this, 89% admitted that they had consulted the Internet for non-emergency health advice or information about their pregnancy, and outside of midwife appointments, mums-to-be are more likely (53%) to turn to the Internet for non-emergency advice or information than anyone or anything else.

Many will do this regularly throughout their pregnancy – more than one in 10 (13%) searched for advice online on
a daily basis, while more than one in four (27%) did so every few days.

Linda Bryceland, head of midwifery at Private Midwives, said: “Traditionally during pregnancy, women often found themselves receiving huge amounts of conflicting information – everything from well-meaning loved ones, to media and even strangers in the supermarket. But the Internet has opened up a whole range of new sources of information, which in many cases may not be medically qualified and given without context or taking into consideration women’s individual circumstances and medical backgrounds. What’s more, this is available at the touch of the button, on a whim – so it is not surprising that women are finding themselves logging off and feeling more worried than they were to begin with.

“If women have concerns or questions about their pregnancy, the best thing to do is to resist the temptation to quickly search for more information or the answer online, and instead speak to a medical – whether that’s their midwife, the non-emergency NHS 111 phone line or their GP, who can provide professional, clinical information and guidance, which takes into account their medical history and individual circumstances.”

According to the survey, as many as 90% of UK women who gave birth in the past five years experienced anxiety and worry during their pregnancy.

The top five sources of information which provided information which worried mums-to-be during their pregnancy:
1. Search engines – 41%
2. Online forums/groups – 38%
3. People who aren’t medical professionals who I know – 32%
4. Blogs – 27%
5. Strangers – 16%

Private Midwives is a Care Quality Commission registered and regulated service which connects expectant parents with expert midwives who provide antenatal care, birth care and support, and postnatal care at times and locations that work best for parents-to-be.