Showing posts with label Babies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Babies. Show all posts

Financial Must Do's for New Parents Having a Baby


That bundle of love is going to cost you plenty over a lifetime, so start planning now.


Preparing for parenthood isn’t just tiny clothes and heartwarming ultrasound photos; it involves a lot of financial preparation. This guide will lay out the most important financial tasks on your plate from pregnancy to baby’s first years, including:

Estimating your medical costs
Planning leave from your job
Budgeting for the new arrival

Some parenting preparations are best learned on the fly — how to effortlessly and painlessly change the messiest diapers, for instance. But the list of things to do before baby arrives and within his or her first several weeks is lengthy, so tackling certain tasks now is a smart idea.

Pre-Delivery Planning

1. Understand your health insurance and anticipate costs. Having a baby is expensive, even when you have health insurance. You should forecast your expected costs fairly early in the pregnancy. NerdWallet’s guide to making sense of your medical bills can help as you navigate prenatal care, labor and delivery, and the bills that will ultimately follow.

2. Plan for maternity/paternity leave. How much time you and your partner (if you have one) get off work and whether you’re paid during that period can significantly impact your household finances in the coming year. Understand your company’s policies and your state’s laws to get an accurate picture of how your maternity leave will affect your bottom line.

3. Draft your pre-baby budget. Once you know what you’ll be spending on out-of-pocket medical costs, understand how your income will be impacted in the coming months and have prepared a shopping list for your new addition, adjust your budget accordingly. Babies come with plenty of expenses, so set a limit on both necessary and optional buys (like that designer diaper bag or high-end stroller with the LCD control panel), and consider buying used to keep spending under control.


4. Plan your post-delivery budget. Recurring costs such as diapers, child care and extra food will change your household expenses for years to come. Plan for them now so you aren’t caught off guard.

5. Choose a pediatrician within your insurance network. Your baby’s first doctor appointment will come within her first week of life, so you’ll want to have a physician picked out. Talk to friends and family to get recommendations, call around to local clinics and ask to interview a pediatrician before you make your choice. In searching for the right doctor, don’t forget to double-check that he or she is within your insurance network. Ask the clinic, but verify by calling your insurance company so you’re not hit with unexpected out-of-network charges.

6. Start or check your emergency fund. If you don’t already have a “rainy day fund,” now’s the time to anticipate some emergencies. Kids are accident prone, and with the cost of raising a child there’s no telling if you’ll have the disposable income to pay for any unexpected expenses. Having at least three to six months’ worth of living expenses covered is a great place to start.

While in the Hospital

The main focus while you’re in the hospital is having a healthy baby. But there are a few loose ends that will need to be taken care of.

7. Order a birth certificate and Social Security card. Hospital staffers should provide you with the necessary paperwork to get your new child’s Social Security number and birth certificate. If they don’t or if you are having a home birth, contact your state’s office of vital records for the birth certificate and your local Social Security office to get a Social Security card.


Within Baby’s First 30 Days

8. Add your child to your health insurance. In most cases, you have 30 days from your child’s birth date to add him to an existing health insurance policy. In some employer-based plans, you have 60 days. Regardless, do it sooner rather than later, as you don’t want to be caught with a sick baby and no coverage.

9. Consider a life insurance policy on your child. No one expects the tragedy of losing a child, so many parents don’t plan for it. The rates are generally low because a child’s life insurance policy is used to cover funeral costs and little else. When it comes to covering children, a “term” policy that lasts until they are self-sufficient is the most popular choice.

10. Begin planning for child care. Finding the right day care or nanny can take weeks. Get started long before your maternity leave is over. You’ll need time to visit day care centers or interview nannies, as well as complete an application and approval process if required.

Beyond the First Month

You’ll be in this parenting role for years to come, so planning for the future is crucial. Estate planning is a big part of providing for your children, but it isn’t the only important forward-focused task to check off your list.

11. Adjust your beneficiaries. Assuming you already have life insurance for yourself or the main breadwinner in your household — and if you don’t, you should — you may want to add your child as a beneficiary. The same goes for your 401(k) and IRAs. However, keep in mind that you’ll need to make adjustments elsewhere to ensure when and how your child will have access to the money. A will and/or trust can accomplish this.

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12. Disability insurance. You’re far more likely to need disability insurance than life insurance. Make sure you have the right amount of coverage — enough to meet your expenses if you’re out of work for several months. Remember, your monthly living expenses have gone up since the new addition.

13. Write or adjust your will. Tragic things happen and you want to ensure your child is taken care of in the event that one or both parents die. Designate a guardian so the courts don’t have to. Your will is only one part of estate planning, but it’s a good place to begin.

14. Keep funding your retirement. When a child arrives, it’s easy to forget your personal goals and long-term plans in light of this huge responsibility. Stay on top of your retirement plans so your child doesn’t have to support you in old age.

15. Save for his or her education. College is costly, but you can make it more manageable by starting to save early.

Adding a new member to your family comes with a lengthy list of responsibilities, so don’t try to do them all at once. Prioritize and tackle the most important items on your financial to-do list first. Because medical bills and insurance claims will be some of the first financial obligations you’ll encounter while expecting, start there. Move on to budgeting for pregnancy and the first several months of your baby’s life.

With 18 or more years until your little one leaves home, time would seem to be on your side. But — as the saying goes — blink and he’s grown. Now is the time to start taking the steps that will set your family up for financial success.


NerdWallet  June 23, 2015                                                      Time Money


Pregnancy By The Months

What Happens in the First Month of Pregnancy?

Pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters. Each trimester is a little longer than 13 weeks. The first month marks the beginning of the first trimester.

Gestational Age
Pregnancy is measured using “gestational age.” Gestational age starts on the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period (LMP).

Gestational age can be confusing. Most people think of pregnancy as lasting nine months. And it’s true that a woman is pregnant for about nine months. But because pregnancy is measured from a woman’s last menstrual period — about 3-4 weeks before she is actually pregnant — a full-term pregnancy usually totals about 40 weeks from LMP — roughly 10 months.

Many women do not remember the exact date of their last menstrual period — that’s OK. The surest way to tell gestational age early in pregnancy is with ultrasound.

Weeks 1–2

These are the first two weeks of a woman’s menstrual cycle. She has her period.  About 2 weeks later, the egg that is most mature is released from the ovary — ovulation. Ovulation may happen earlier or later, depending on the length of a woman’s menstrual cycle. The average menstrual cycle is 28 days.
After it is released, the egg travels down a fallopian tube toward the uterus. If the egg meets a sperm, they combine to form one cell. This is called fertilization. Fertilization is most likely to occur when a woman has unprotected vaginal intercourse during the 6 days that lead into ovulation.

Weeks 3–4

The fertilized egg moves down the fallopian tube and divides into more and more cells. It reaches the uterus about 3–4 days after fertilization. The dividing cells then form a ball that floats free in the uterus for about 2–3 days.
Pregnancy begins when the ball of cells attaches to the lining of the uterus. This is called implantation. It usually starts about 6 days after fertilization and takes about 3–4 days to be complete.
Pregnancy does not always occur. Up to half of all fertilized eggs pass out of women’s bodies during regular menstruation before implantation is complete.
pregnancy-week-4.jpg
Learn more about how pregnancy happens.

A Woman’s First Signs of Pregnancy
For many women, the first sign of pregnancy is a missed period. Most pregnancy tests will be positive by the time a woman has missed her period. Other early signs of pregnancy include fatigue, feeling bloated, frequent urination, mood swings, nausea, and tender or swollen breasts. Not all women have all of these symptoms, but it is common to have at least one of them. 

What Happens in the Second Month of Pregnancy?

EMBRYONIC DEVELOPMENT
The ball of cells develops into an embryo at the start of the sixth week. The embryonic stage of pregnancy will last about 5 weeks. During this time all major internal organs begin developing.

Weeks 5–6

  • The embryo is less than 1/5 inch (4–5 mm) long.
  • A very basic beating heart and circulatory system develop.
  • Buds for arms and legs develop.
  • The neural tube begins forming. The neural tube will later form the brain, spinal cord, and major nerves.
  • The bud of a tail develops.
  • The umbilical cord begins developing.
Pregnancy Week 6

Weeks 7–8

  • The embryo is 1/4 to 1/2 inch (7–14 mm) long.
  • The heart has formed.
  • Webbed fingers and toes develop.
  • The arms bend at elbows.
  • External ears, eyes, eyelids, liver, and upper lip have begun forming.
  • The sex organs are the same — neither female nor male — in all embryos until the seventh or eighth week. If a gene triggers the development of testes, the embryo develops as a male. If there is no trigger, the embryo develops ovaries and becomes female.
Pregnancy Week 8

PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS

The second month is often when pregnancy symptoms become very noticeable.  Common discomforts like breast tenderness, fatigue, frequent urination, heartburn, nausea, and vomiting usually get worse. A woman’s body produces extra blood during pregnancy, and her heart beats faster and harder than usual to carry the extra blood.

What Happens in the Third Month of Pregnancy?

FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Weeks 9–10

  • The embryo develops into a fetus after 10 weeks. It is 1–1.5 inches (21–40 mm) long.
  • The tail disappears.
  • Fingers and toes are longer.
  • The umbilical cord connects the abdomen of the fetus to the placenta.  The placenta is attached to the wall of the uterus. It absorbs nutrients from the woman’s bloodstream. The cord carries nutrients and oxygen to the fetus and takes wastes away from the fetus.
Pregnancy Week 10

Weeks 11–12

The fetus is now measured from the top of its head to its buttocks. This is called crown-rump length (CRL).
  • The fetus has a CRL of 2–3 inches (6–7.5 cm).
  • Fingers and toes are no longer webbed.
  • Bones begin hardening.
  • Skin and fingernails begin to grow.
  • Changes triggered by hormones begin to make external sex organs appear — female or male.
  • The fetus begins making spontaneous movements.
  • Kidneys start making urine.
  • Early sweat glands appear.
  • Eyelids are fused together.
Pregnancy Week 12

PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS

Many of the pregnancy symptoms from the first 2 months continue — and sometimes worsen — during the third month. This is especially true of nausea. A woman’s breasts continue growing and changing. The area around the nipple — the areola — may grow larger and darker. Women who are prone to acne may experience outbreaks.
Women do not usually gain much weight during the first 3 months of pregnancy — usually about 2 pounds. Women who are overweight or underweight may experience a different rate of weight gain. Talk with your health care provider about maintaining a healthy weight throughout pregnancy.

Miscarriage
Most early pregnancy loss — miscarriage — happens in the first trimester. About 15 percent of pregnancies result in early pregnancy loss during the first trimester.

Learn more about miscarriage.

What Happens in the Fourth Month of Pregnancy?

The fourth month marks the beginning of the second trimester.
FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Weeks 13–14

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 3 inches (8 cm).
  • The sex of the fetus can sometimes be seen by looking at external sex organs on an ultrasound.
  • Hair begins to grow.
  • The prostate gland begins developing in male fetuses.
  • Ovaries move down from the abdomen to the pelvic area in female fetuses.
  • The roof of the mouth is formed.
Pregnancy Week 14

Weeks 15–16

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 4.5 inches (12 cm).
  • Hundreds of thousands of eggs are forming in the ovaries in female fetuses.

PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS

Some of the early signs and symptoms of pregnancy begin to be relieved during the fourth month. Nausea is usually reduced. But other digestive problems — heartburn and constipation — may be troublesome. Breast changes — growth, soreness, and darkening of the areola — usually continue. It’s common for women to have shortness of breath or to breathe faster. Increased blood flow may lead to unpleasant pregnancy symptoms, such as bleeding gums, nosebleeds, or nasal stuffiness. Pregnant women also may feel dizzy or faint because of the changes to their blood and blood vessels.

What Happens in the Fifth Month of Pregnancy?

Weeks 17–18

  • The fetus has a CRL of 5.5–6 inches (14–15 cm).
Pregnancy Week 18

Weeks 19–20

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 6.5 inches (16 cm).  
  • Lanugo  — a fine downy hair — covers the body. 
  • The skin is also covered with vernix caseosa, a greasy material that protects the skin.
  • A uterus has formed in a female fetus.

PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS

Women usually feel fetal movements for the first time during the fifth month. It may feel like flutters or butterflies in the stomach. This is called quickening.
The pregnancy symptoms of the fourth month continue this month. Heartburn, constipation, breast changes, dizziness, shortness of breath, nosebleeds, and gum bleeding are common. Breasts may be as much as 2 cup sizes bigger by this time.

What Happens in the Sixth Month of Pregnancy?

FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Weeks 21–22

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 7 inches (18–19 cm).
  • Bone marrow starts making blood cells.
  • Taste buds begin to form.
Pregnancy Week 22

Weeks 23–24

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 8 inches (20 cm).
  • Eyebrows and eyelashes usually develop between weeks 23 and 26.

PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS

Pregnancy symptoms from the fourth and fifth month usually continue. Shortness of breath may improve. Breasts may start producing colostrum — tiny drops of early milk. This may continue throughout pregnancy.
Some women have Braxton-Hicks contractions. They feel like a painless squeezing of the uterus or abdomen. This is the uterus’s way of practicing for labor and delivery. Braxton-Hicks contractions are normal and not a sign of preterm labor. But women should check with their health care providers if they have painful or frequent contractions or if they have any concerns.

What Happens in the Seventh Month of Pregnancy?

FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Weeks 25–26

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 9 inches (23 cm).
  • The fetus develops more and more fat from now until the end of pregnancy.

Week 27–28

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 10 inches (25 cm).
  • Eyelids are usually fused together until about 28 weeks.
Pregnancy Week 28
PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS
A woman’s uterus continues expanding. Back pain is common. Pregnancy symptoms from earlier months continue. Dizziness may lessen.

What Happens in the Eighth Month of Pregnancy?

The eighth month marks the beginning of the third trimester.
FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Week 29–30

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 10.5 inches (27 cm).
  • Testes usually begin descending into the scrotum from the abdomen between weeks 30 and 34 in a male fetus. This is usually complete by 40 weeks.

Week 31–32

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 11 inches (28 cm).
  • Lanugo starts falling off.
PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS
Women often start feeling tired and have a more difficult time breathing as the uterus expands up. They may get varicose veins — blue or red swollen veins most often in the legs — or hemorrhoids — varicose veins of the rectum. Hemorrhoids can be painful and itchy and cause bleeding. Women may also get stretch marks where skin has been expanded. Braxton-Hicks contractions, heartburn, and constipation may continue. Women may urinate a bit when sneezing or laughing because of pressure from the uterus on the bladder. Hormones may make hair appear fuller and healthier.

What Happens in the Ninth Month?

FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Week 33–34

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 12 inches (30 cm).
  • The eyes have developed enough for pupils to constrict and dilate when exposed to light.
  • Lanugo is nearly all gone.

Week 35–36

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 12.5 inches (32 cm).
  • The fetus is considerably fatter, and the skin is no longer wrinkled.
PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS
The growing fetus places more and more strain on a pregnant woman’s body. Common pregnancy symptoms continue through the end of pregnancy, including fatigue, trouble sleeping, trouble holding urine, shortness of breath, varicose veins, and stretch marks. Some fetuses drop down into the lower part of the uterus during this month. This may relieve the woman’s constipation and heartburn that are common earlier in pregnancy. But some fetuses do not drop down until the very end of pregnancy.

What Happens in the Tenth Month?

FETAL DEVELOPMENT

Week 37–38

  • The fetus has a CRL of about 13–14 inches (34–36 cm).
  • The fetus has a firm grasp.

Week 39–40

Many women give birth around this time.
  • The average newborn weighs 7–8 lbs. and is between 18–22 inches (46–56 cm) long with legs extended.
  • Almost all of the vernix and lanugo are gone. It is common for newborns to have some lanugo that disappears over the first few months of life.
Pregnancy Week 40
PREGNANCY SYMPTOMS
By the end of pregnancy, the uterus has expanded from a woman’s pelvis to the bottom of her rib cage. Pregnancy symptoms in the tenth month largely depend on when the fetus drops down into lower part of the uterus in the pelvis.
Shortness of breath, heartburn, and constipation usually improve when the fetus drops. But the position of the fetus lower in the pelvis causes frequent urination and trouble holding urine.
The cervix will begin to open — dilate — to prepare for delivery. This may happen a few weeks before delivery, or it might start when a woman goes into labor. A woman may feel sharp pains in her vagina as the cervix dilates.
After the newborn is delivered, the placenta and other tissues also come out of the woman’s body. This is called the afterbirth.
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Planned Parenthood

Create A Nautical Nursery for your Little One

With its stripes and sails, this fresh nursery is perfect for sweet boy dreams.


Nautical nursery 

 
 
 Stripe Away
  • Combine striped fabrics and wallpaper in a fun way.
  • Stick to white, light blue, navy and red to create a look that is uniform and traditionally nautical.

Tip:

  • Layer the look by hanging decorative items including stars, fish and boats from hooks.

Ever so Tidy

  • Beware of clutter in a nursery
  • You may not have the luxury of time to keep things neat and tidy
  • Make your life easy by having specific compartments for every item
  • Store nappies, bum cream, powders and ear buds in a neat container on top of the changing area
  • Use a piece of furniture with drawers or a traditional compactum as a changing station to have all the necessities on hand

Match & Match

  • Don't underestimate the power of colour co-ordination.
  • Try to do it throughout, with the toys you display, the bedding and the wall art and general decorations.
  • You will be amazed at the results!
  •  The room will automatically feel like a whole
  • Using white furniture as a base means you can easily update or change the look in the future.

Extend the Theme

  • Using a little boat in different ways- like painted on canvas and cut out of wood- extends the look and theme of the nursery.
  • Wanting to brighten up the bathroom too, buy a packet of stickers and stick it onto the wall, transforming it into a cartoon heaven for any small child. 

It's in

 the detail...

  • Use interesting handles for your cupboards. These handles let the ligh


Essential Pregnancy Apps

These apps help you to connect with baby in the womb and stay on top of its development with great health tips too.

SHARE

 
 
 
 
  

What to Expect: Pregnancy Tracker

The popular American pregnancy book's mobile app features a due-date calculator, weekly updates on your baby's development and your changing body, daily tips, photo album, due-date countdown and size estimates.
Read more about it here.
Cost: free. Get it on Android and iTunes.
  

BabyCenter: My Pregnancy Today

Track your baby's development with daily updates and health tips, illustrations and videos.
Read more about it here.
Cost: free. Get it on Google Play and iTunes.

Mediclinic baby: Pregnancy App

This app takes you through your pregnancy week by week, features a weight gain tracker, contraction timer, calendar for you to mark special dates, photo album for your bump pics and list of what to pack for hospital. It also offers more information about the Mediclinic baby programme.
Read more about it here.
Cost: free. Get it on iTunes
Moving city or country is not easy for anyone, but moving with children brings a whole host of considerations into play. Like your fragile glassware, children too need to be handled with care.



 
Tips to make a move smoother
 
 
     
Struggling socially in the beginning after a move is very common, but few children will have lasting effects. Children from families who have relocated revealed feelings of being conspicuous, feeling like the odd-one-out, literally or figuratively not speaking the language, having no idea of how to go about being accepted, and not being able to catch references or understand in-jokes. As a parent, knowing that these are common emotions that your child will experience can allow you to be more empathetic to his moods.


Talking the good and bad emotions through really assists with the settling process. Don’t be surprised by changes in your child’s behaviour while he is settling in. You can expect some regression, some acting out and some grieving. Children who become very withdrawn or aggressive for more than a few weeks should sound alarm bells. Try to talk through his feelings with him, but seek expert advice if you do not see his mood lifting.


The passage of time usually smoothes down the rough patches in a move, but what can you do to lessen the impact of a move on a child’s emotions and behaviour?


Here are some tips for making the move smoother :


Before the move:


1. Tell your child about the move as soon as possible. It gives him time to get used to the idea.
2. Sell him the benefits of the move in a way that he can relate to.
3. Reassure him by telling him what won’t change about the family life.
4. Make the move more concrete by showing pictures of where you are moving to. Older kids can go online and do the research themselves.
5. Say a positive goodbye to all the people and places your child loves. This will assist in achieving closure. It might also help to create a book for each child with photos and contact details of all the important people in their lives.

During the move:



1. Don’t treat the move as a time to discard all your child’s old toys as it will compound the feelings of loss. Take everything he wants even if it stays in the box once you arrive.
2. Let younger children get used to the process by packing their own belongings.
3. Pack a “must have” suitcase for each member of the family containing favourite possessions.

After the move:



1. Re-establish your family routines as quickly as possible.
2. Create a symbolic settling-in ritual like hanging up your wind chimes, or planting a familiar plant from home.
3. Make a game of getting to know the new neighbourhood (and establishing the boundaries of where children can and can’t go).
4. Put a huge effort into helping your kids form friendships by inviting other kids over to play.
5. Allow your child to experience the benefits of the new environment by doing things that he couldn’t do in the old one. Arrange outings and treats.
6. Help your child keep contact with the friends and family left behind by emailing lots of photos.
7. Focus on your relationship with your partner. A strong family nucleus is the source from which your children can draw strength.
Before, during and after the move, you will find yourself wanting to cover your child in bubble wrap to prevent him from experiencing the hard knocks of relocation. But what you might discover is the inner resilience that a move’s juxtaposition of gains and losses unearths in your child and yourself. “Here is the surprise,” admits Debi Hawkins of her move with her two children, “Without Jasmine and Monty I would have dissolved into a self-pity party very often. But having to think about the day-to-day things for them swung my attention from me to them, and they saved me from myself.”





Best Advice For Breastfeeding in Public

The advice on breastfeeding seems to flow thick and fast. Please forgive the pun. Some advice is often quite prescriptive; particularly to new mothers in the beginning, from well intentioned and busy midwives. Often the best advice comes from other Mums who have been there recently and learnt from their experience. Forums such as �mumsnet� are often invaluable sources of frank and honest advice. If you read just some of the posts, the main thread of advice that comes through is; relax, take the prescriptive advice with a pinch of salt, let baby take the lead a bit and don�t get stress about it! After all, the alternative is far from the end of the world!











It is important to know that babies are individuals. They may have slightly different feeding patterns, or yours may have a bigger appetite than others! Newborns can cluster feed in the evenings. Feeding all night for the first few weeks doesn't mean they've got night and day mixed up and is actually not to bad a situation, because night is when levels of hormones are higher and it helps get breastfeeding established. Also, wear a sleeping bra, but make sure it isn't too tight or you could end up with mastitis.

One of the main initial problems women encounter when breastfeeding is �latching on�. There are many sources of advice on this, not least your midwife, and it is wise to establish that the baby is latched on properly and is getting milk before you leave the hospital. If you are unsure what you are doing is working, don�t be afraid to get a second opinion. Another great source of advice about latching on is on the Dr Jack Newman website.

Then comes the issue of feeding in public. After all, baby does not know when you are meeting a friend for coffee or sat in the doctor�s waiting room waiting for a check up. This can be another substantial source of anxiety and another reason why mums choose to stop early on.

This need not be the case though. It is virtually impossible to organize your life around feeding times and therefore it is best to be more relaxed about it and just be prepared. There are many products available that can assist mums (and their babies) to gain confidence in the early days of breastfeeding in public. The breastfeeding cover (or apron) is one such product. These covers can work well throughout your days of breastfeeding in public, particularly as baby gets older and is more prone to distraction. The breastfeeding cover / apron creates a nice cocooned environment for you both. This way, if you do feel a little self conscious when breastfeeding in public, you can cover up using an apron. Many mothers use cloths but this tends to not be as comfortable for the baby, and as a mother, you lose eye contact with the baby and can�t check as easily whether they are feeding well.

Advice comes from all directions when you are a new mum, and much of it seems contradictory. It can be a great strain when you are worried about doing the right thing. Probably the best advice is to listen but in the end, judge what seems to be right for your baby.
About The Author
Dawn Callery is a mother who understands the pressure on mothers to breastfeed. As owner of Freedom Babe, she strives to offer innovative, tried and tested products designed to make life easier for new mothers. The is the first in a planned range of products available from Freedom Babe.

TEL 0845 5438463 WEB www.freedombabe.co.uk
The author invites you to visit:
http://www.freedombabe.co.uk










The Importance of Play in a Child's Life

It�s true that education is like a building block for a child�s future. All parents dream for a better career for their child�s life. Everybody wants their child to be doctor, engineer and wants to see them in high posts. In this cut throat competition children get pressurize with their activities to the extent that they don�t get spare time for their own entertainment. Teachers also keep the child busy during the holidays by giving them assignments and homework. Earlier children used to play with their siblings. So, the children easily got a play environment at the home. However, now the time spent by children in playing was very less as compared to the past two decades. Parents should understand that play is an important activity and they should not deprive their child from this opportunity.











Group games allow children to learn the values of team spirit. It also teaches them to cooperate with other members of the team and develop self discipline. This also enables them to face negative situation in life and make them strong when they get defeated. Many studies have proved that children playing games which have lots of violence are likely to be more short tempered and aggressive.

It is the duty of the parents to find out whether the child knows the difference between fantasy and reality. When this problem is not uprooted in the initial stages then it can take very ugly turn in child�s life and they will start presuming that real life is also like the games which they play. It will have a negative impact on children mind because inappropriate games will impart wrong set of values in them. Through play children develop essential life skills; they also learn how to interact with their peers and adults. It is through play that children develop essential life skills; they learn how to interact with their peers and with adults.

There are certain benefits that child get after playing. These benefits are given below:

1. Reduces fear, anxiety, stress, irritability

2. Creates joy, intimacy, self-esteem and mastery not based on other's loss of esteem

3. Improves emotional flexibility and openness

4. Increases calmness, resilience and adaptability and ability to deal with surprise and change

5. Decreases tactile defensiveness

6. Healing process for hurts

7. Enhances feelings of acceptance of difference

8. Increases empathy, compassion, and sharing

9. Creates options and choices

10. Models relationships based on inclusion rather than exclusion

11. Alternative to aggressor-victim model of relationships

12. Decreases revenge and need for self defense

13. Improves touch and nonverbal socialization skills

14. Increases attention and attachment capacities

15. Positive emotions increase the efficiency of immune, endocrine, and cardiovascular systems

16. Decreases stress, fatigue, injury, and depression

17. Integrates sensor motor, kinesthetic and emotional responses

In conclusion every child should be allowed to play as they learn so many skills from playing, and from defeating. Play is essential for every child�s development as it make them well balanced grown up and prepare with all the essential life skills needed.

About The Author
This article has been written and posted by the team of OnlineSchoolAdmissions � a portal that provides free of cost consultancy to parents and schools for fast and easy online school admission process. Parents can locate best schools in bangalore or school admission form of their choice selected from the directory of schools listed on the site and applies to them. They can also search for carmel convent school bhopal as per their choice and fill up the school application forms online. Visit more details at:- http://www.onlineschooladmissions.com/

Teach Your Children to Respect You

The most important value you will ever teach your children is: to respect their parents. And since you cannot pass anything on that you don�t incorporate yourself, you will have to start by first respecting your children. If they don�t feel treated like a human being, worthy of respect and love, deserving of your attention, then their cooperation will be in short supply.



First, you show them respect. Second, you teach them to respect you.



So how to go about this in practice? What to do if your children complain about the food, insult you because you�re picking them up from the gym 10 minutes too late, or if they don�t want to clean up their own mess?



Let�s have a look at these situations one by one:



1. Are the kids complaining about the food? Do you hear a �bwerk� when they see what�s in the casserole? Well, you are no fool, are you? You just spent one hour in the kitchen preparing that meal. Before cooking, you spent one hour at the grocery store buying the food. Before that, you spent many hours on the job, earning the money to pay for that food. So you now start asking yourself, �Did I not give enough of myself for this meal?� Yes, you did! You do not owe it to them to prepare a warm meal every day. But you do owe it to yourself to get some respect from those for whom you make all these efforts. Enough is enough! You did your part of the deal, now it�s up to them. Teach your children to say �thank you� for every meal. If they have no �thank you� on offer but only muster a �bwerk,� then you are not making dinner for at least two days! Soon they�ll be begging you for a warm dinner, and God knows they will be very grateful when they finally get one on the third day! Never continue delivering a service that is not appreciated. You�d be a fool to do that! How does it feel to be toiling away behind the stove, all the while fearing your efforts and goodwill won�t be appreciated? This is no way to live! If they appreciate neither your efforts nor your cooking, then make them go without for 2 or 3 days, and see what happens.



2. Are the kids insulting you just because you�re ten minutes late when picking them up from the gym? Then stop picking them up from the gym for a few times! Make it clear to them that they have to appreciate your effort of taking them and picking them up. Don�t start an argument with them, for that doesn�t work. Don�t keep explaining time and time again that they should respect you, but rather show them by taking action. If they are unable to see the difference between the important facts (you are there to pick them up) and the unimportant facts (being ten minutes too late), then let them feel the difference. Next time around, simply don�t take them to the gym, so they will become aware of the difference and learn to appreciate what you are doing for them. Don�t settle for being treated like a slave. You are worthy of respect! Show them what it means to be a person who respects himself. Respect yourself and others will respect you.



3. Are the kids complaining that �there is nothing to eat� in the house, while the kitchen cupboards are bulging with food? What they mean, of course, is that THEIR favorite food is not available in large enough a quantity. Do your kids have this kind of complaints? Okay, here�s what you do: stop going to the grocery store for a while. That way the kids will have to first finish all the food in the fridge and in the cupboards (or go do some household shopping themselves, also an enlightening exercise). This also makes for an economical cleaning up of all those half-finished packs of crackers, biscuits, cheese, and the like. Then comes the next phase where there really is �nothing� left in the cupboards. Now is the time to go to the grocery store, and you can bet on it that they will appreciate the new arrivals! They will feel like there�s �so much to eat,� while in fact there�s less food than when they were complaining there was �nothing to eat.�



4. Are the kids putting tons of ketchup on their food, continuously ignoring your warnings to be more economical and eat healthier? Stop arguing about it, for that doesn�t work. Instead, stop buying ketchup all the time! For example, buy one bottle of ketchup per month and clearly tell your children that they�ll have to do with this one bottle for the whole month. When the bottle is done, it�s done, till next month comes around. If necessary, buy a bottle for each child and label it. That way your children will learn to regulate their �ketchup behavior.�



5. Are the kids ignoring your orders to put their shoes in the designated place? Do they go on leaving their shoes all around the house? Tell them this will be the last warning, and that from now on, any shoes found scattered around will be �launched� into the back yard. And then, stick to your promise! I had to do this once with my sun�s basketball shoes: I launched them outside. As it happened, that night it was raining cats and dogs. The next morning he cried, �What do I do now? My shoes are all wet!� I said to him, �Sun, this is your problem.� Believe me, I had to do this only once! Once your children know that you will do as you say, then you won�t have to do it. They will respect your word!













6. Are your children�s rooms a mess? You want the mess to be cleaned up? Don�t do it yourself! Your teenagers should clean up their own mess! So instead of arguing about it, tell them that they have to clean up their room before dinner on Saturday. That way you are giving them plenty of freedom to chose their own timing. Come Saturday evening dinnertime, go check if the room is tidy. If not, then there is no dinner for that child. After all, this was the deal: room to be cleaned BEFORE dinner. They can still clean their room right there and then, and have dinner when they�re done, but as long as the room is not clean there is no dinner. You could also say, �You clean your room and after that you can go out with your friends.� Be consistent and do as you say.


This is where many parents stumble when dealing with their children: they argue too much. They go on explaining the same thing dozens of times. Do you really think the kids didn�t understand what you were saying? If you have said something two times, then that�s enough. After the second time, you should ACT and not TALK.



Don�t argue with them! Never argue with a child. You are the parent, you are the one who decides. You can negotiate with your child, but don�t feel you need to explain yourself. Kids have much more energy than you do, and sooner or later you will give up (or give in) because your energy is spent while theirs is not. They know that and they will win the battle! Don�t get tempted to go into endless discussions with your child. Learn to act after the second warning. Be consistent! That�s the only way to get respect.



About The Author
Written by Ineke Van Lint, psychologist. My goal is to help you achieve success and happiness. Accomplish your mission on earth and love yourself. Two free e-courses at http://www.theenthusiasm.com.










Bonding with baby before birth

The human becoming inside you has the ability to learn, feel and respond to its environment and to the touches and messages it receives from the outside world.
 
 
Bonding with baby before birth
 
    
When I was a little girl I had an imaginary friend. She came every where with me and I even made space for her in the car. She slept in my bed, bathed with me and in fact was ‘one of the family’, being acknowledged by my mother even though I was teased horribly by my brothers.


When I discovered I was pregnant for the first time – I once again experienced the feeling of having an unseen person with me all the time – but this time it was for real.


When my daughter was born I had this incredible sense of knowing her already. Perhaps my imaginary friend was my future baby waiting in the wings for the time when she would start to make her way into the world.


I believe that bonding starts long before birth – very soon, in fact after conception. 21 days after conception your baby is the size of a grain of rice and the heart has started beating strong and steady under your own heart.


Most women are not even aware that they are pregnant and yet others feel a change in their bodies very early on. A woman’s body starts to make huge adaptations to accommodate and protect this new life - within hours of fertilisation.


Once a pregnancy is confirmed and you are given the news – it can seem quite surreal. You are now “with child” and although you know something massive has happened, you don’t yet feel all that different. In 280 days or so, this speck of life will develop into a 3kg (more or less) baby girl or boy.
As you move through the first trimester, it is normal to experience emotional highs and lows. The thought of getting through the pregnancy, birth and then the lifelong challenge of raising a functional, happy child seems overwhelmingly daunting. But never fear – each child comes into the world for a reason and if this baby has been given to you to love and cherish – accept the honour, privilege and blessing of your gift.

What is pre-birth bonding?

Bonding with your unborn means creating a relationship with your child from the minute you know s/he is there. These moments of interaction – be they words spoken to your child, a thought about your child, or a touch of your abdomen intended affectionately for your child, are the first steps in building the bridge towards a healthy development of that individual.
Bonding is a 2 way process in which mother and child build a close attachment. Bonding before birth is the optimal time to begin building the relationships that will encourage baby’s independence, trust, and self worth - as well as family strength, understanding and love.
The strength of this bond depends a lot on how the mother looks after herself and her baby during pregnancy. And this does not only apply to mothers, but to fathers as well. Babies come into this world needing nurturing, food and love, which a mother supplies.
Fathers on the other hand supply protection to both mother and baby, and that is why 2 parents are needed – because human babies are defenseless and helpless for a very long time.

Bonding during the 1st trimester

I remember the day I was told I was pregnant. I was ecstatic and after telling my husband I sat still for the longest time trying to get my mind around it. I remember saying out loud “Well little person – it’s you and me together for the next 9 months – ready or not here we go”.
I did not feel foolish or shy that I was speaking to a blob of cells – I felt the presence of a miracle deep within my body and I was so proud.


But it isn’t like that for everyone. And that does not mean there is something wrong with you. We all conceive in different circumstances and if your pregnancy has been a bit of a shock or has happened at a time in your life where you may not feel so stable – take heart.
Most of the time love “grows on you” just like the pregnancy does.

Talk to your child

In the beginning, start by talking to your child – like you would if she was sitting next to you. Talk with your child on a daily basis. Be aware that as each day passes your child is becoming increasingly aware of its environment and its being.


The first trimester is the most crucial time in your baby’s development and a time where you have to be good about looking after yourself and getting rid of bad habits like smoking, drinking alcohol or taking drugs of any sort. This already shows that you care and that it matters to you that you build a strong, confident body for this baby.

Sing to your child

Towards the end of the first trimester begin singing and reading to your child. Start taking time out everyday if possible to focus completely on your baby, especially just before you fall asleep and first thing in the morning on waking.

Bonding during the 2nd trimester

Touch your belly when your baby begins to move

About halfway through the second trimester you will begin to feel your baby move. What an awesome moment. Respond by touching your belly with gentle prods or shaking and jiggling your belly. Not only is this good for your baby emotionally, but is also fantastic for development of the nerve pathways to the brain and you are stimulating the sense of touch which is the first sense to develop (at 5 weeks gestation).

Share your delight with your child

After every scan you have, share your delight with your child. Tell her how well she is growing and how proud you are. Your baby is already getting used to the sound of your voice and the foundations of her language are being laid down every time you talk – you speak her ‘Mother Tongue’.

Read stories and sing to your baby

At 26 weeks the auditory nerve is fully functional and the little bones in the ears (the ossicles) are fully developed – adult size. If you have not already begun to, now is the time to start reading stories and singing to your baby.


Encourage dad to get involved. Babies learn to recognize their father’s voice – especially if he has been talking to and touching his baby, by massaging your abdomen.


Get to know your baby and she will get to know you. Take the time to know her movement patterns. You will soon recognise if she is a cool cucumber or a hot chilli pepper by the movements and the vigour that she displays.

Bonding during the 3rd trimester

Tell your baby about your life and the life she will have

In the third trimester as you go about setting up her room and her own special place, tell her what you are doing in anticipation of her arrival. Tell your baby about the family she is coming into and about all the preparations that are going on in your home at that time.


Tell her if you have animals, special old toys that you have kept and cleaned just for her and any other exciting stuff that is going on in your life.












If you have an off day or you feel tired, frustrated or afraid of what is coming – share this with her as well. She lives in the middle of your body – she feels what you feel, but does not understand the negative feelings that pass. Always reassure her – especially if you have had a shock, or have been having a hard time – be it physically or emotionally.


Life happens and children sense that from an early age. They need an explanation and reassurance that it is not their fault – even when they are still in the womb. Don’t pretend that sad feelings don’t exist. Don’t feel guilty for having them.


Letting your child know that she is valued, wanted and loved heals any ills that come your way and will not affect your baby negatively. Never underestimate your power of love and the incredible benefits and healing it can bring.


The time before birth while your child is growing inside your body is a unique opportunity to get to know her. Use this special time to escape the pressures of the world every day for a few moments and take the time – make the time to let love grow as you build a relationship with your own special miracle.


So talk to, touch and enjoy your baby. That special link and amazing bond will connect you over time and distance for the rest of your life and the life of your child.










When bonding doesn't work











Not all mothers bond, or are able to bond with their baby after birth. This article addresses the issues that many mothers and fathers have with bonding with their newborns.


When bonding doesn't work
 
    
“Just as there is no warning for childbirth, there is no preparation for the sight of a first child. I studied his face, fingers, the folds in his boneless little legs, the whorls of his ears, the tiny nipples on his chest. I held my breath as he sighed, laughed when he yawned, wondered at his grasp on my thumb. I could not get my fill of looking.
“There should be a song for women to sing at this moment, or a prayer to recite. But perhaps there is none because there are no words strong enough to name that moment. Like every mother since the first mother, I was overcome and bereft, exalted and ravaged. I had crossed over from girlhood. I beheld myself as an infant in my mother’s arms, and caught a glimpse of my own death. I wept without knowing whether I rejoiced or mourned. My mothers and their mothers were with me as I held my baby.
“ ‘Bar-Shalem,’ I whispered. He took my breast and fed in his sleep.”
- The Red Tent, by Anita Diamant
This description of a mother’s first moments with her newborn paints a powerful picture of mother-baby bonding. The mother is overwhelmed by love for and fascination with her newborn child; you can feel her hormone-filled euphoria and intense emotion.
They settle into a quiet post-partum moment of contentment, and breastfeeding seems to cement that incredible bond.
Bonding is a powerful attachment to and love for your baby. It is usually coupled with a sense of responsibility for this new life entrusted to you which, experts believe, is nature’s way of ensuring the survival of these helpless little beings. As parents, our instincts drive us to feed, shelter and protect them at all costs.
It is not only the baby’s physical safety that is assured by a close parental bond. Psychologists believe that early relationship between the baby and his parents is very significant, forming the basis for the child’s other intimate relationships.
For many women, bonding starts in pregnancy. Perhaps you felt the first stirrings of love when you saw the tiny heartbeat fluttering on the scan, or when he first moved inside you.
For some, the first glimpse of the newborn and it’s love at first sight.










When bonding takes longer

For others, the process takes longer. As Jane* puts it: “They handed me my baby and I looked at him for the first time and it was so weird – he was a little stranger.”
Jane clearly isn’t feeling the instant love that we often think of as the bonding moment, but that doesn’t mean she is destined to be estranged from her child.

Bonding is a process

While the early minutes, days and weeks are an important time, bonding is a process, not a moment. “There is no rush,” says Deborah Jackson in Baby Wisdom. “Babies do not fail to bond with mothers or fathers simply because the mothers or fathers doubt their own feelings. The solution is to keep connecting with the baby in positive, physical ways and let the emotions follow. Skin-to-skin contact is the surest way to elicit strong maternal and paternal reactions.”
Debbie Levin of the Postnatal Depression Support Association concurs, “Very often, mothers expect to feel completely bonded straight away. Quite often that doesn’t happen; it can take a while. However, if a mother does not feel attached or bonded after a fair adjustment period, say six weeks, she should get help.”

What helps bonding...

Certain physical and emotional conditions contribute to bonding. Early contact is strongly recommended. Immediately post-birth, you are on a hormone high. Oxytocin, the “love” hormone, and prolactin, sometimes called the mothering hormone, flood your body. Adrenalin and endorphins are released. Chemically, you and your newborn are in the perfect state for mutual attachment.
In modern hospitals babies are usually given to their mothers as soon as possible. Ideally, mother and baby are in close skin-to-skin contact immediately after the birth, the mother touching and stroking her newborn, the baby inhaling his mother’s scent, hearing her heartbeat and instinctively rooting for the breast. Touch is a language that babies understand. Stroking, nuzzling, massaging, cuddling, napping together, bathing together – these are the ways you and your partner can communicate your love for your child and develop that special bond.
Various studies have shown that both vaginal delivery and breastfeeding may positively influence the mother-baby bond. That’s not to say that you will necessarily struggle to bond if you’ve had a C-section or are bottle-feeding. Childbirth educators recommend that bottle-feeding moms get some of the benefits of breastfeeding by cuddling up skin-to-skin and maintaining eye contact with the feeding baby.
A good support system helps. You and your partner are in this together and his involvement and support will make your transition from couple to loving, bonded family easier.










What hinders bonding?

Not every mother (or father) feels an instant bond with their newborn. It’s a very personal experience that proceeds differently for every mother. Chances are that this bond will develop over the coming days and weeks as you become more confident in caring for your baby and you recover from the physical effects of birth. There are many circumstances that can affect bonding.

Difficult pregnancy

If your pregnancy was difficult, for instance, and you feared the loss of your baby, you might have held back emotionally to protect yourself.

Premature baby

Mothers of very premature babies, or babies who are ill and in Neonatal ICU sometimes experience something similar. If your baby is in an incubator or attached to complex and unfamiliar equipment, it’s not easy to touch and nurture him. Persevere, though, and ask the nurses to help you hold, stroke, soothe and feed him as well as you can under the circumstances.

Delivering your baby

Mothers who are exhausted after a long and difficult delivery, or mothers who have  not had the kind of delivery that they had hoped for and anticipated, might find it harder to feel that immediate bond. If your baby is high-maintenance, for instance if he has colic, you might find that it takes a little longer for you to feel really attached.

Feelings of inadequacy

Many new mothers simply feel inadequate to the task of looking after this new little person. Kathy* describes her first days as a mom, “My main emotion was absolute terror. I remember thinking, ‘How can they let us take this tiny baby home?’ I didn’t know how I was going to keep her alive. I didn’t know if I was doing things right, or if she was getting enough to eat. When my husband went back to work I cried every morning. I wished I could go back to work, to do something I was competent at, and let someone who knew what they were doing look after the baby. I had absolutely no faith in my parenting skills and I was so anxious that it was difficult for me to enjoy my baby. We only really bonded after about a month, when my fear settled down a bit. It made a real difference when I got the hang of breastfeeding and I could see she was getting fatter. At least I could stop worrying that I was starving her!”
Claire Marketos of Inspired Parenting adds, “If the mom feels she is unable to meet her expectations of mothering she may feel miserable and disillusioned. Feeling isolated and unsupported can make a mother feel overwhelmed in her new role, especially if this is combined with criticism from family members and her partner about her mothering skills.”

Mental, emotion and physical wellbeing

If the mother is mentally, emotionally or physically unwell, this can impact on her ability to respond to and bond with her baby. There is a correlation between PND and difficulty in bonding, explains Debbie Levin, “When a person is depressed, bonding is often affected. The mother might go into automatic mode, bathing and changing the baby, but not really wanting the baby near her. In the case of very severe depression, bonding can be badly affected and in extreme cases, someone else might have to look after the baby.”
Approximately 10% of women who have just given birth experience postpartum depression. It’s common, but treatable. Get help from your doctor if you suspect you are suffering from PND, and particularly if you have thoughts of harming yourself or your baby.
Having a baby is a deeply profound experience, and mothers with unresolved trauma, such as abuse, or who have suffered a loss, perhaps of a partner or another baby, may find that the birth and the transition to motherhood seems to make these issues resurface. Your own experience of being mothered can also impact on your own feelings about becoming a mother yourself. A psychologist can help you look at these issues and heal the pain of your past.










If you aren’t bonding

Don't force it

Debbie Levin advises moms who are not feeling bonded to try not to blame themselves, and to take the relationship slowly. “Don’t force yourself to be with the baby all the time if it’s not working. Focus on doing something that you do enjoy – if that is bathing the baby, for instance, set aside a little period of time to really enjoy that.”

Reevaluate your expectations of motherhood

“Reevaluate your expectations of motherhood,” suggests Claire Marketos. “The ’perfect mother’ is not what your baby needs. Take a moment to be still and get in touch with your instincts or ’inner voice’ through meditation. Don’t sweat the small stuff.”

Ask and accept help

Ask for and accept help, especially from your partner. If friends and family are happy to take care of some of the daily chores, or cook a meal, or fetch older kids from school, accept gratefully. It will allow you to catch up on sleep and recover from the birth, and give you time to really get to know and love your baby. Snuggle up with him and take a nap. Bath together. Sing to him. Spend 10 minutes marveling at his tiny fingers and toes.

Talk about your issues with those who understand

Talk to friends who have young babies, or join a mom and baby group. It’s reassuring to know that others have similar experiences. “Spend time with people who are warm and nurturing and avoid people who are critical and overbearing, even if they are your own family,” says Claire. “Receiving love and support for yourself makes it easier to give love and support to your children.”










Sleep well and eat well

Meet your own needs for sleep, downtime and nutrition, so that you can be strong, healthy and consciously present for your baby.
Eat well and take a multivitamin if your doctor advises it – now’s not the time to try and diet away that post-baby weight. If you don’t get the nutrients your body needs you won’t be able to cope with the demands of looking after a small baby, and nutritional deficiencies may even adversely affect your bonding.
Mothers who suffer from iron deficiency may be less emotionally involved with their children after birth, according to a 2005 study done by researchers of Pennsylvania State University. Get out into the sunshine for Vitamin D and fresh air.

If you're still struggling

If you feel that you are not forming a positive attachment to your baby, don’t feel guilty; it doesn’t mean you are a bad mother or a bad person. Talk to your doctor. They are accustomed to dealing with new moms in your position. The sooner you get professional help, the sooner you will feel better and the sooner you will be able to really bond with your baby.


Resources
Postnatal Depression Support Association www.pndsa.org.za
National helpline: 082 882 0072
Gauteng helpline: 082 429 2279

Q&A: Coping with the loss of a baby...

I am 31 years old and ten weeks into my pregnancy I lost my baby. I feel so lost and blame myself for not taking care of the baby. My partner and I were looking forward to having this child. We didn’t have a name yet as we didn’t know the sex. I feel as if a part of me has been taken away and I can never get it back. My boyfriend was so excited about the pregnancy as it would have been his first child. He is so hurt and I don’t know how to comfort him. He says it is too early and he has nothing to say – but I know he is hurting as much as I am. What can I do for him?
 
 
Q&A: Coping with the loss of a baby...
 
 
 

Karin Steyn (counselling psychologist & hypnobirthing practitioner) answers:

I am so sorry for your loss. I am relieved to see that both you and your partner are actively mourning this loss, as this is a healthy and necessary step to healing and moving on with your lives in the future. Give your boyfriend some time and space to process this loss in his own way, but also
try to keep the lines of communication and interaction open between you.
Many people don’t even acknowledge their losses when it happens in the first trimester, or allow the miscarriage to ruin their relationship, and I do not think this is healthy. Perhaps the two of you could think about the expectations you had started to create when you learnt about the positive pregnancy, because that is where the loss lies. You could also choose a name for the baby and write a farewell letter to this child where you say goodbye in your own way. Children do not have
to be born alive or have been in our lives forever to have touched our lives in a meaningful way. It would be good to review how this baby, although only consciously present in your lives for such
a short time, has influenced your lives and your relationship and give thanks for this experience and opportunity and all that you have gained (not only lost).










I know that many women feel such disappointment in their bodies and themselves for not being able to carry the pregnancy successfully to the end, but I also know that taking this personally will
not help. We do not always understand why a miscarriage takes place, especially when we have been able to have babies with relative ease prior to this pregnancy. Frequently, a miscarriage is nature’s way of ensuring that the babies that are born will be more healthy and able to live a quality life. Perhaps the two of you could use this opportunity to reflect on your desire to be parents together and bring another child into this world, and then plan it proactively. Planned pregnancies are easier to monitor as you are able to take the steps even before the pregnancy to ensure that you are in good health, and create the conditions for optimum fertility










"I was supposed to still be pregnant!"

Thinking she still had 2 months to plan for the arrival of her baby boy, Yolandi Boshoff got the shock of her life when she was told it was time...
 
 
"I was supposed to still be pregnant!"
 
 
 

2 months to go...right?

It was the end of 2008 and I had just stopped working. I was 32 weeks pregnant and just starting to worry about how I could possibly occupy myself for the next 2 months. Little was I to know that Ben would decide his arrival should be at 32 weeks.

Diagnosed with pre-eclampsia

Earlier in December I was diagnosed and hospitalised with pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure), which was very strange considering that I was usually the one with low blood pressure.

Monitoring blood pressure and protein levels

After my release I had to monitor my blood pressure 3 times a day at home, as well as the protein levels in my urine – apparently if these 2 are out of sync, it could be extremely dangerous for both mom and baby.
So we had just spent a lovely Christmas with my family and they left to go back to Jo'burg on New Year's Day. At this point I was walking around with ankles the size of tree trunks and I could wear exactly one pair of flip flops as nothing else fitted my boat-sized feet. My mother had kept me on my back for most of Christmas but no amount of feet in the air would make these babies go down!

Blood pressure and protein readings out of sync

I woke up on Friday 2 January to find that the 2 readings where slightly out of sync, and I was feeling pretty horrible... but that was how I'd been feeling for a month so why worry now?
But Rob insisted that we go off to the emergency rooms; he felt things were not right. After arguing for about 30 minutes, he basically forced me into some clothes, combed my hair and stuck me in the car!

Admitted to hospital and pumped full of steroids

When I was admitted, the doctor thanked him for bringing me in; they pumped me full of steroids and started monitoring my blood pressure and Ben’s heart rate. I spent Friday and Saturday in hospital thinking things where getting better, and then on Sunday morning at 9am, after another set of tests and readings, the nurse walked into my room and said that they have to take Ben out at 10:30...

Emergency C-section

What a shocker! I just burst into tears as I was supposed to still be pregnant and not sitting here prepping for an emergency C-section.Poor Rob rushed to phone all the family in Jo'burg and the UK to warn them. Lucky for me I live with the calmest man under the sun and he just took over and made me feel a lot more relaxed.
He had also spent the last 2 nights alone at home making my birthing CD as he was expecting this to happen more than I was. Once I was admitted to the theatre they played my CD and it was so amazing, I still remember listening to our Googoo Dolls song and waiting for the anaesthetist to try and do the epidural while Rob was hugging me.

Having to go under

Needless to say, with the amount of water retention I had (20kg at that stage), the doc could not get the needle into the right spot. I still remember sitting back up and the doctor saying that they needed to put me under for the C-section.










"He was born to one of my favourite songs"

On the mask went and I was out – this all happened in the space of a couple of songs. Rob experienced the birth on my behalf, took tons of photos and my son was born to one of my favourite songs, and I still get tears in my eyes every time I hear it on the radio!

Waking up

I woke up a few hours later in a total morphine daze, and I remember them putting this little bundle on my chest... He was so small but he was healthy and alive! The rest of the day was a complete blur, but at least I woke up on Monday morning feeling a lot better and in touch with reality.

A healthy baby boy

So Ben weighed in at 1.6kg, and he was the cutest little miniature baby ever. Lucky for us there were no complications and he didn’t even have to go on the ventilators. The doctors made the right choice by starting the steroids on the day I checked in.
3 weeks later he weighed a whole 2kg, I weighed 20kg less and he came home! Ben is now 18 months old and weighs almost 12kg and is the healthiest little boy!










Smoking and pregnancy

You want to quit. But you’re still craving it and you just can’t help it. Here’s how to stop smoking once and for all.

Smoking and pregnancy
 
    
The risk of causing permanent harm to my baby was the trigger that finally helped me kick a 15-year addiction to cigarettes. It was sheer relief when, taking a puff of a cigarette around my ninth week of pregnancy, I knew it would be my last.
Many women smokers don’t realise they are pregnant, at least for some weeks, and expose their developing babies to tobacco toxins at an important development stage.










According to science

Patrick Holford and Susannah Lawson, authors of “Optimum Nutrition Before During and After Pregnancy”, say that smoking in the first few weeks after conception affects the way cells replicate and interferes with protein synthesis.
This is believed to be why babies born to smokers are more likely to suffer malformations, in particular cleft palates, hare lips, deafness and squints. They point out that the risk of birth defects increases by two and a half times, even if the woman doesn’t smoke while her partner does. This is because the mutagenic compounds of tobacco damage the chromosomes of sperm.

Motivation to quit

There is strong incentive to quit during the early stages of pregnancy. If women stop by the fourth month of pregnancy, they can reduce some of the risks associated with smoking, such as delivering low birth weight babies. Conversely, the more women smoke during pregnancy, the greater the reduction in birth weight.
Birth weight is a key indicator of health in later life. Lower weights have greater correlations with heart disease, strokes, diabetes and overall susceptibility to illness. Higher weights are associated with intellectual development.

Step-by-step

For me, the motivation was simple: if the health of my baby couldn’t convince me to quit, what would? Even then, it took a little time.










The first step to encouraging a pregnant woman to quit is to arm her with a detailed understanding of the risks associated with smoking, in a factual and non-judgmental manner.
The next is to help her (and possibly her partner) through a cessation programme, and to maintain this after birth to prevent a relapse.

The risks

Before pregnancy

Smoking damages the quality of women’s eggs, and thus lowers the number that can make a healthy baby. It also reduces sperm concentration by about 24 percent.

During pregnancy

Women who smoke have a 27 percent higher risk of miscarriage, and a greater risk of still birth. They are also more prone to complications such as bleeding, pre-term delivery, premature rupture of membranes and placental problems. Some women experience higher levels of nausea associated with smoking.

At birth

Babies born to smokers have lower average birth-weights (between 150 and 300 grams, although good maternal nutrition can reduce the differential). This is because nicotine and carbon monoxide from cigarettes depletes oxygen and reduces blood flow from the placenta to the womb, leading fewer nutrients to reach the baby.

After birth

Babies born to maternal smokers suffer twice the risk of sudden infant death syndrome. They are prone to complications such as respiratory infections, bladder and kidney problems, and disorders of the nervous system, senses, blood and skin. Some studies show a correlation between smoking during pregnancy and attention deficit disorder.

Tips on how to quit

Stopping

  • You can follow a similar programme to non-pregnant smokers. The starting point is to select the date on which you will stop and, instead of deciding to try, simply decide to stop.
  • You may opt for the cold turkey approach, or you may prefer a gradual cut-back.
  • Plan what you will do when a craving comes. They tend to last just a short time, so something simple might work, such as visualising your baby growing strong as you inhale clean air.
  • Enlist the support of family, friends and colleagues. Ask them not to smoke around you.

Smoking other stuff

It’s not just tobacco that’s bad for babies. Although there is inconsistent data on the effects of marijuana, mostly because it is often used with other drugs such as alcohol or tobacco, marijuana usage in pregnancy is associated with hyperactivity and cognitive impairment in children.
Regular marijuana use in men is associated with reduced sperm count.
Women who are dependent on heavy narcotics such as tik and heroin need to seek help. Their babies are often born dependent themselves and suffer withdrawal symptoms such as irritability and vomiting. Other problems include premature birth, low birthweight, breathing problems and low blood sugar.

Best kick-the-habit tips from CANSA:

  • Decide on a date to quit smoking and do it
  • Throw away your smoker’s paraphernalia: ciggie packets, ashtrays, lighters
  • Drink lots of water - it will help flush the nicotine from your body
  • Become more active - exercise ie walk, jog
  • Change your routine. Avoid smokers and things that make you want to smoke for the first couple of days
  • Tell your family and friends that you are trying to quit so that they can offer you support
  • You may experience some dizziness, headaches or coughing once you have stopped smoking. This is normal and should improve after a day or two and disappear within 14 days
  • The first two to three days are the most difficult, after that it gets easier. Your cravings will reduce and eventually disappear.
  • If you are worried about gaining weight, eat at regular times during the day. Snack on fruit between meals. Take time for exercise. Not all ex-smokers gain weight.
  • Do not use a crisis or special occasion as an excuse for "just one" cigarette. One cigarette leads to another and another, and another.
  • Don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t cope with going cold turkey. You’re addicted to a serious drug, and you might need to get professional help to quit the addiction for once and for all.

Call in the heavy artillery

There are numerous natural therapies recommended by practitioners. Some people have managed to quit using hypnotherapy, acupuncture and reflexology. 
 
Resources:
For more information on qualified hypnotherapy practitioners in your area, contact the South African Institute of Hypnotherapy at 0861 102 318 or visit www.hypnotherapy.co.za
To find a registered homeopath, reflexologist or acupuncturist in your area, contact The Allied Health Professions Council of South Africa at www.ahpcsa.co.za
To find out where you can attend a "Smokenders" course in your city or town, log onto their website at www.smokenders.co.za

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