| We have provided a few useful tips covering a number of areas of pregnancy and new baby care. We hope you find these helpful.
Breast Feeding Survival Tips
- Feed on demand, the more the baby takes, the more milk your body will make.
- Don’t give ‘top up’ bottles of formula, it will upset the balance of supply and demand.
- Try different feeding positions – ask a midwife for help.
- Get support, ask about local groups or contact La Leche (check the phone book for a local group) or Cuidiu (www.cuidiu-ict.ie) ph: 01 872 4501 or from www.breastfeedingsupport.ie
- Express milk – then you can have some time out.
- Persevere – breastfeeding does get easier.
- Look after yourself – Eat healthily and rest when the baby sleeps.
- Keep going – the World Health Organisation advises mothers to breast feed exclusively for the first six months, and in conjunction with solids for at least a year.
Reduce Stress During & After Pregnancy
A lot of books and parenting supplements out there talk about stress and parenting. Complete freedom from stress is almost impossible, but what is certain is that prolonged and severe stress can cause you and your baby harm. It is therefore important to find ways to manage your stress when it is getting too much for you.
Actions To Take To Reduce Stress
- Talk it out, share it with some other caring person.
- Write it out, it is easier to put it in perspective when it is put on paper.
- Shrug it off, raise your shoulders, take a deep breath and then drop them and relax your body while breathing out – sounds simple, but it works.
- Sort it out, list practical options, wait, decide and then act.
- Create “worry time”; put aside 15 minutes for a worry session and forget them until then.
- Work it off, do something physical, clear your head, divert your energy.
- Reverse it, consider taking an opposite approach and explore alternatives.
Positive Coping Strategies
- Take regular exercise.
- Take time out for yourself.
- Practice abdominal breathing.
- Enjoy healthy nutrition.
- Anticipate stressful situations, plan how to deal with them before they happen.
- Remember you can’t drive your car if there is no petrol in it, so we need to put the same fuel into our bodies and minds, i.e. solid, healthy food!
- Establish a regular sleeping pattern.
- Accept what you cannot change.
- Change your attitude.
- Become more assertive by saying no and managing your time.
- Discuss your feelings and thoughts with caring other people.
- Do one thing at a time.
- Avoid self medication with drugs or alcohol.
Your Baby’s Cries
Everyone knows that babies cry for various reasons, but few know that the reason itself can be interpreted from the cry itself. In some cases listening carefully, not just to the cry itself, but often the minutes preceding it, can help to work out what the problem might be. We have listed the 5 main types of crying identified.
The Hunger Cry
This is the most common cry. It begins gradually then works up to an explosive cry, followed by a pause. It usually gets louder and louder and the baby tends to make a ‘neh’ sound, with the emphasis on the ‘n’, particularly in the pre-cry stage. If you are giving the baby regular feeds but he never seems satisfied and cries continuously with the hunger, speak to your doctor about it. In the case of bottle feeding, it’s possible the teat of the bottle is too small or blocked.
The Tired Cry
It fluctuates in tone and volume and is often accompanied by sucking fingers or rubbing eyes. Tired, crying babies tend to shape their mouth, yawn and make an ‘owh’ sound. Try rocking them to sleep – if they are tired it should only be a few minutes before they nod off.
The Trapped Wind Cry
It’s important to remember that babies can suffer from trapped wind several times a day – not just after feeding. Not winding them properly can cause bubbles of air to move into their intestine, making them uncomfortable. There are four different ways to wind a baby correctly. Babies often need to be winded an hour after their feed. Crying babies with trapped wind often make an ‘eh’ sound.
The Pain Cry
This cry is loud, long and shrill. The baby’s body tenses as he draws his hands and feet up. The cry caused by internal or external pain is the same. Check for signs such as swelling, sensitivity to touch, vomiting, a change in bowel movements and a change in the pace of breathing, particularly where it is noisy and fast. If your baby is showing any of these, seek the help of your doctor immediately.
The Aversion To Loud Noise Cry
Many babies don’t like loud noises and will express this with a piercing loud cry, followed by a gasping for breath. The sound of a loud television or sudden bang can frighten them. The obvious thing to do is to distance them from the source of the noise.
This valuable and effective settling technique has made a come back due to the preferred sleeping position for babies. Babies positioned on their back are considered at less risk of SIDS, however they will often stimulate the moro or startle reflex with their movements, and wake up. Swaddling or wrapping helps to overcome this concern, by recreating the safe in utero feeling for baby.
The practice of swaddling goes back nearly as far as human history, itself. The oldest archaeological evidence of mothers swaddling their babies begins in 4000 B.C. Swaddling’s ability to soothe and calm babies has been known to mothers around the world for countless generations. But while the evidence of its benefits have been clear to women for thousands of years and across every continent, today we can turn to science for proof that swaddling is one of the most gentle, effective, and beneficial practices for mothers and their children.
In 2002, the medical journal Paediatrics published a study that explained why babies who are swaddled sleep more peacefully by preventing spontaneous movements (called reflex motion) from waking them up continually during the night. The same year, the Journal of Applied Physiology wrote that swaddled infants stay in REM sleep (the most restorative, deepest sleep) longer than those who were not swaddled.
Swaddling is said to be as familiar to babies as it is to their Moms because it recreates the secure and cosy feeling of the womb – and using swaddles made of natural cotton muslin Aden and Anais Swaddles only enhances that blissful feeling. Muslin is a finely-woven breathable fabric believed to have originated in Bangladesh during the middle Ages. It’s delicate, yet durable weave, makes the fabric stretchy, and therefore ideal for swaddling, as the natural “give” allows the blanket to be tucked snugly around a baby without being overly restrictive.
The lightweight muslin also permits air to circulate around the baby’s body, while still providing comfort and warmth without the worry that the baby may overheat in moderate weather. Cotton muslin is also a workhorse fabric, in that wraps woven from its natural fibre stands up to repeated washings only becoming softer – and better – with age.
Of course, all the scientific evidence in the world is no substitute for the experience of millions of Mothers through uncountable generations - that swaddling in muslin is one of the most loving, gentle, restorative acts a mother can perform for her child.
Swaddling : Fresh from a foetal position, infants are not used to wide- open spaces. Plus, they don’t know that their arms and legs belong to them. When they’re overtired, you need to immobilize them, because seeing their legs and arms flail about both scares the day-lights out of them - they think someone’s doing something to them - and the experience heaps more stimulation onto their already overload senses. Swaddling, one of oldest techniques for helping a baby get to sleep, may seem dated, but even modern research confirms its benefits.
To swaddle properly : Fold the corner of a Aden and Anais Muslin blanket down into a triangle. Lay your baby on top, positioning the fold level with his neck. Place one of his arms across his chest at a 45-degree angle and bring one corner of the blanket snugly across his body. Do the same with the other side. I suggest swaddling for the first six weeks, but after the seventh week, when Baby is first trying to get his hands to his mouth, help him out by bending his arms and leaving his hands exposed and close to his face and swaddle from under his arms.
Important: If you choose to swaddle, be sure you know how to do it correctly. Improper swaddling by tightly wrapping your baby’s legs straight down may loosen the joints and damage the soft cartilage of the hip sockets, leading to hip dysplasia. Be careful not to cover your baby’s head and face. Do not use heavy blankets to swaddle as this may cause the baby to overheat.
The SIDS debate continues to arouse controversy:
The best sleeping arrangement for babies and children continues to be a subject for study and heated debate. Depending on the “spin” put on a particular piece of research, one study can appear to contradict another. A study from Department of child health, University of Glasgow, published in 2005, suggests that there is no risk in co-sleeping with a baby over 11 weeks old, they did find a risk if SIDS, not only from co-sleeping but also from a baby sleeping in a separate room but their conclusion that co-sleeping with very young babies is risky contradicts the research carried out among populations in other parts of the world.
So let’s go back to the science of SIDS :
As we have seen, SIDS is caused mostly by unstable breathing and an immature cardiovascular system. It is known from scientific studies that separation from the mother’s body means the baby moves into a primitive defence mode, which can result in wildly irregular breathing and heartbeat. After six hours, a baby separated from his mother has stress hormone levels twice as high as a baby whose mother is close by. In contrast, being in close bodily contact with the mother stabilizes a baby’s heartbeat and breathing. That said, there will be many parents who remain anxious about sleeping in close contact with their babies. If you feel uncertain about the issue, you can swaddle your baby to sleep in a cot right beside your bed, where you can instantly reach out to him when he cries.
Sharing a bed with your baby:
Keeping your baby close to you helps you get to know your baby and to recognise when she/he is hungry and wanting to feed. In hospital, you are encouraged to have your baby with you by your bed at all times. When you go home it is recommended that your baby shares a room with you, particularly at night, for at least six months, as this helps to protect babies against cot death.
If you are breastfeeding, you may find it helps if your baby shares your bed at night. This can make breastfeeding easier because your baby can feed whenever she/he wants without disturbing you too much. Your baby will usually lay on his/her side to breastfeed. After feeding he should be put on his/her back to sleep, never on his/her front or side. It also helps to calm your baby if she/he is unsettled, and many babies sleep better when they are close to their mother. However to ensure safety, there are a number of points to consider before you think about having your baby in bed with you:
You should NOT share a bed with a baby if you (or any other person in the bed):
- Are a smoker (no matter where or when you smoke)
- Have drunk alcohol
- Have taken any drug or medication which could make you extra sleepy
- Are otherwise unusually tired to a point where you would find it difficult to respond to your baby because this will increase the risk of cot death
There are also a number of things you need to be made aware of if you are co-sleeping:
The mattress should be firm, flat and clean
Make sure your baby does not get too warm. The best room temperature for a baby is 16-18’C
It is best to use cotton sheets and cotton cellular blankets rather than duvets or quilts
Do not swaddle if you are sharing a bed with your baby.
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