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Getting to Know the Three Phases of Breast Milk

Your body is amazing. Not only did it grow and birth a human, but it is also capable of exclusively nourishing that human through the first six months of their life. Did you know that as your baby grows and changes, your breast milk grows and changes, too? Yup, that’s right. Your body knows exactly how to create the perfect, most nutrient-rich formula to protect and help your little one grow. So today, let’s spend some time getting to know the three phases of breast milk.

Phase 1: Colostrum

Colostrum, otherwise known as “liquid gold,” is the precursor to your milk supply and produced for only 2-5 days postpartum. A nutritionally dense superfood for babies, colostrum contains white blood cells and immune-boosting support. Colostrum is high in protein but low in sugar and fat, making it easier for your newborn to digest. Colostrum is so beneficial to your newborn, you should make giving it to them a priority, even if you don’t plan to breastfeed.

Some women can produce colostrum throughout their pregnancy but don’t worry if you don’t notice any. Once the placenta is expelled from the uterus, hormonal shifts signal to the breasts that it’s time to start production. Colostrum is noticeably different from breast milk. It is thick, creamy, and typically gold/yellowish in color (but it can be clear). One thing you may notice is that you will produce far less colostrum than you will transitional or mature milk.

A feeding for your newborn will consist of about 1-1.5 teaspoons of colostrum. While this sounds like a dramatically small amount, your newborn’s stomach is quite small and does not begin to stretch until around day three. By this time, your baby will be capable of eating more per feeding, and, luckily, this is when your transitional milk will come in.

Phase 2: Transitional Milk

Typically, between days 3-6 postpartum, you will begin to produce “transitional” milk, the bridge between colostrum and mature milk. Your newborn is growing rapidly during the first few weeks of their life, and amazingly, your breast milk adapts to meet their changing needs. During the time of your transitional milk, your breasts are learning how much to supply based on how much your newborn is eating.

The content of your milk at this stage is changing, too. Compared to your colostrum, transitional milk has a higher content of fat and lactose (sugar), which helps give your baby energy. The protein content of your transitional milk changes, too. Casein and whey now play important roles in digestion and satiety. Whey proteins, which are rich in antibodies and remain liquid in your baby’s stomach. This makes them easily and quickly digestible. Casein protein, however, curdles when it mixes with the acid in your baby’s stomach, helping them feel fuller longer. If you begin to notice chunks in your baby’s spit-up, this is why.

Your breast milk changes the most during this transitional phase as your body learns how to match the changing needs of your growing newborn. By the end of your first month postpartum, your milk supply will transition into your mature milk.

Phase 3: Mature Milk

Your final stage of breast milk transition is your “mature” stage, typically reached by four weeks postpartum. At this point, your milk has made almost all of the changes and adaptations necessary to meet your growing baby’s needs. Your mature milk is especially effective at protecting your little one against bacteria. Perfect timing, too, as we’re sure you’re noticing your little one putting more objects into their mouth! Interestingly, your mature milk is so specifically suited for your unique baby, scientists are still having trouble fully understanding exactly which cells, antibodies, etc. breast milk is made of and how it works to protect babies. Amazing.

Mature milk is delivered to your baby during feedings in two stages: foremilk and hindmilk

    • Foremilk is the milk that comes out at the beginning of your feed. It is thinner, sweeter, and typically lower in fat. 
    • Hindmilk is the milk that comes in gradually as your baby continues to feed. It is more nutritionally dense and higher in fat.

Your mature breast milk not only satiates your baby’s hunger, but it also helps build their gut bacteria, boost their immune system, and feeds their rapidly growing brain. On top of that, your mature breast milk contains stem cells and hormones that help build the foundation for your baby’s health throughout their entire life!!

If you are experiencing difficulty with breastfeeding, have questions, or just need some support, we offer a variety of  lactation consultation packages, including virtual appointments!

The post Getting to Know the Three Phases of Breast Milk appeared first on Welcome Baby Care.

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10 Tips for surviving the 4 month sleep regression: an expert weighs in

Just when you thought you had bedtime beat: your baby is fussy and wakeful. Not to worry; after helping hundreds of new parents navigate the dreaded 4-month sleep regression, I’ve got 10 tips you need to get things back on track .

Meet our expert

Rachel Turner

Certified Sleep Sense™ Consultant, Owner, Hello Sleep 

What’s happening?

At 4 months, even good sleepers suddenly experience a 2-3 week sleep regression, when they won’t sleep and wake frequently at night.

The good news? It’s not actually a regression at all—it’s more like a progression: a sign your baby’s sleep cycle is maturing. She’ll be on this new cycle for the rest of her life.

The challenge? At this age, your baby’s also learning to roll over, absorbing language, recognizing faces, becoming more active—all milestones that can contribute to sleep regression.

Is it normal?

Very normal—although it can be trying for mom and dad. Newborns only experience two sleep cycles a night. But at 4 months, your baby starts cycling through 4 stages of sleep, like adults.

Suddenly, she’ll spend more time in a lighter, non-REM sleep stage, causing more frequent wake-ups. And it may take her a little time to adjust.

What can I do about it? 

Knowing it won’t last forever can be a comfort—but here’s what you can do in the meantime.

1. Slowly break sleep associations

Learning to sleep independently can be hard for babies—and negative sleep associations can make sleep regression even more challenging. 


2. Use lightly weighted sleepwear

During the 4-month sleep regression, a little extra comfort can go a long way. A lightly weighted swaddle (if baby isn’t rolling over yet) or sleeping bag will help keep her calm and cozy.

How to do it: Start with some extra cuddles as part of your bedtime routine, then dress baby in gently weighted Zen Sleepwear™ to help them self-soothe through the night.


3. Feed as much as needed

It’s not uncommon for babies to experience an increase in appetite during a sleep regression. The 4-month regression often coincides with a growth spurt that will make baby extra hungry.

How to do it: Don’t be afraid to give them what they ask for. An extra long feed or a dream feed before you head to bed might help your baby sleep a little longer.


4. Black out the nursery

Newborns aren’t afraid of the dark, but they do respond to light; it tells their brains that it’s time for activity. So at bedtime, the darker the better—especially during a sleep regression.

How to do it: Keep the nursery dark by putting black-out curtains on any windows letting natural light in and avoid turning on the lights for any middle of the night feeds or diaper changes.


5. Put baby down drowsy, but awake

Getting baby in the crib before they’re totally asleep helps teach them how to fall asleep independently—it’s also going to help you break those sleep associations.

How to do it: Once you get baby calm and they appear drowsy, put them in the crib or bassinet right then instead of waiting until they are fully asleep. This can also help with sleep training.


6. Keep it quiet

Any extra noise is going to distract baby from sleep, especially now that they’re spending more time in lighter sleep stages.


7. Stick to your routine

The 4-month sleep regression might make it difficult to stay on your normal schedule but skimping on your routine will make it that much harder to get to it once the regression is over.

How to do it: Consistency is key. The timing may change but keep your sleep routine activities the same. Don’t have a routine yet? Now’s a great time to start one.  


8. Adjust baby’s bedtime

To compensate for shorter naps during the day, try moving bedtime ahead. Not getting enough will make baby overtired, only adding to the fussiness of the 4-month sleep regression.

How to do it: Depending on their daytime sleep schedule, move bedtime up by an hour or more so they can get some extra Zzz’s. This might require dropping their last nap of the day.


9. Give them time to practice

The 4-month sleep regression usually coincides with babies learning to roll over. Your baby is trying to master this new skill and might think bedtime means practice time.

How to do it: Incorporate plenty of tummy time into playtimes during the day so your baby won’t be distracted when you’re trying to get them to sleep.


10. Don’t do it alone

The 4-month sleep regression, while only temporary, can be utterly exhausting. Be sure to take care of yourself: Your own overtiredness can actually rub off on your baby.

How to do it: If your partner, family, or friends want to help, let them. Switch off with a partner on night shifts or have a friend over during the day to squeeze in a nap for yourself.  


4-month sleep regression Survival Guide

Get through the 4-month sleep regression with this pre-sleep checklist, helpful mom hacks, and a wakeup-tracker.

Baby in Zen Sack

New mom sleep hacks

“I wish I would have found and tried the Zen Sack sooner! I decided to try it after dealing with sleep regression for the last few weeks. The first night I put this on my 4 month old son was an immediate improvement. He started sleeping through the night again! It’s safe to say I love this product.”

– Amazon Customer, 11/18/2016

Common questions from tired parents

Related links

8 solutions to get your baby to sleep through the night

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Breastfeeding Prep: Here’s What We Think You Should Know

If you are soon-to-be expecting your first little bundle of joy, you no doubt have learned a lot about pregnancy. And in turn, you have learned first-hand about all of the, how shall we say? Unglamorous things about being pregnant? Point being, we’re sure you’ve experienced some surprises along the way. Things you wish you would have known beforehand. We also feel there is a similar amount of unspoken mystery surrounding breastfeeding. So, today we are going to talk about what we think you should know about breastfeeding now – so you’re not surprised by it later!

Breastfeeding Can be Hard

For some reason, there is an expectation that moms instinctively know how to breastfeed. While, yes, breastfeeding is a very natural phenomenon (for most women), it is not necessarily an easy skill to master. And as your body is recovering from labor, learning to nurse may be the last thing you want to do. You may experience issues with latching, low supply, or maybe your baby just isn’t interested. Nursing is something that takes time to learn how to do it efficiently. If you are having a hard time or find yourself getting frustrated, don’t give up. We are now offering virtual lactation consulting, so if you have questions or troubles with breastfeeding, we’re here to help!

Breastfeeding Can be Painful

Yes, breastfeeding might be painful. And it is important to understand what may be causing your pain:

  • Improper latch
  • Clogged duct
  • Engorgement
  • Sore or cracked nipples

. . . to name a few.

There’s a lot of *trial-and-error involved when you are first learning how to breastfeed. Once you get the hang of things though, breastfeeding can actually become very pleasant. Not only will you experience a physical release of pressure, but your brain releases oxytocin during breastfeeding. Oxytocin is known as the “love” hormone which encourages a sense of calm and can initiate bonding.

*If you are experiencing chronic pain during breastfeeding or are exhibiting signs or symptoms of mastitis (rash, warm skin on the breast, burning sensation during feeds, or fever) it may be time to visit your doctor.

You Need to Eat More

Breastfeeding takes a lot of energy, energy to produce the milk as well as to deliver it. On average, you will be burning anywhere from 400-500 calories a day just from breastfeeding! In order to keep up with this demand, it is crucial you compensate by eating an abundance of healthy, nutritious food. Staying well-hydrated is equally important.

You’re Going to Need Bigger Bras

When you are breastfeeding, you will undoubtedly notice how much bigger your breasts have become. When your milk comes in, it is not uncommon to gain a full cup size (or more)! But don’t worry, once your milk supply stabilizes you will see a reduction in the size of your breasts. However, they will most likely remain enlarged until after you wean your little one. So invest in quality, supportive bras.

Your Nipples are Going to Leak

Yup, you read that right, you leak breast milk. All the time. They will leak when you are close to feeding time, they will leak when you think about your baby, they will leak when you hear a baby cry, they will leak when you take a warm shower, trust us they will leak! Sometimes it is just a dribble and other times it can be a full-on eruption. Many people who have never breastfed tend to think of the stream of milk as coming from one set point, like a faucet. But in reality, the milk comes out in a spray, like a showerhead. The best way to be prepared for the inevitable leakage is to stock up on breast pads and to always carry a spare t-shirt when you go out!

So there it is, a few of our favorite inside pointers to help you prepare for breastfeeding. Much like pregnancy and delivery, breastfeeding is full of surprises, frustrations, even annoyances. Once you get the hang of it though, you will love the time you get to spend snuggling, nourishing, and bonding with your little one!

The post Breastfeeding Prep: Here’s What We Think You Should Know appeared first on Welcome Baby Care.

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You said it: The best—and the hardest—things about having twins

Can you imagine? We asked parents of twins to confess the most challenging things about raising two babies at once—and what they love about it, too.


The hardest thing about having twins is…

“Managing the movement of two babies. Carrying them both up and down the stairs, getting them into the car, etc.” —Simeon R.

“Often having to make one baby wait!” —Catharine D.

“Being outnumbered—the logistics of two on one is definitely the hardest. I wish I could fly solo with one baby or take one swimming without feeling like the other one is missing out on a shared activity.” —Bianca B.

“Everything is just that much more extra. They don’t call them twin tornadoes for nothing!” —T. Smith

“Tandem breastfeeding felt like a physical feat of engineering.” —Josephine A.

“Being at the park or at the mall when both had become mobile. They were pulling up and climbing and then walking, and that was really difficult when I was out by myself. I was so afraid of one twin falling and getting hurt while I was helping or comforting the other. Each of my girls deserved my full attention to keep them safe, but I was just so divided and felt such tremendous guilt.” —Jennifer K.

“The biggest challenge has been getting people to see them as two people and to call them by their names.” —Simone S.

“Acquiring childcare for twins is tough and expensive. We didn’t get two spots at any of the five daycares we were on waitlists for, and it would have cost us $4,500 a month. We used a nanny instead.” —Melissa C.

“Having twins isn’t double, it’s exponential. It’s an extra dynamic because they set each other off and get each other going, and it’s next to impossible to stop that train barrelling down the tracks once it’s going.” —Jennifer K.

“Constantly reminding myself not to compare them. They’re their own people.” —Raylene R.

The best part about having twins is…

“Two babies in a swing together at the park. Melts my heart every time.” —Jennifer K.

“Watching the unique bond the girls have with each other. They have their own language.” —Raylene R.

“My husband and I were forced to be so much more of a team when they were born than if we’d had one baby. We were adamant to have it be just us caring for them overnight, and it was one of the hardest things we have ever gone through as a couple, but it strengthened our relationship, and I think really shaped how we would continue as parents. It was all about survival and doing it together.” —Jenny C.

“Selfishly, the ‘one and done’ thing. Pregnancy was not kind to us.” —Bianca B.

“Their friendship and the way they care for each other is magical and remarkable. when they were toddlers, they would run to comfort the other if they were hurt or crying. They are almost four now and they hug and kiss in dance class.” —Josephine A.

“Being able to watch two babies develop and grow at the same time, but differently. it’s a unique situation.” —Melissa C.

“Watching the friendship blossom between them—it’s not the same as siblings who are of different ages.” —Lori F.

“My identical girls are now eight and I still enjoy the fact that I have twins—I just love the special feeling of that. I love the novelty of it.” —Simone S.

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5 signs your child may have allergies

Suspicious of that sniffly nose? Curious about that cough? Read on to decode some common allergic cues

Wondering if your kid has allergies? Here are the common signs of allergies in kids.

History of allergy in the family

What it means: Along with eye colour and personality quirks, parents can pass on their predisposition to allergies. In fact, family history is one of the greatest predictors of allergies in children, says Zave Chad, an allergist and clinical immunologist in Ottawa. “Allergic kids often come from allergic parents,” he says. The genetic link won’t guarantee a certain allergy is passed along, though similar allergies tend to run in families, says Roxanne MacKnight, a family doctor in Miramichi, N.B.

What to do: Let your kid’s doctor know about your family history, and keep an eye out for any symptoms, like hives, wheezing, vomiting after eating, or an itchy nose and watery eyes.

Runny nose and itchy eyes

What it means: While both a cold and allergies can give a child a runny nose, if it’s accompanied by itchy eyes, or throat, and the child doesn’t have a fever or other signs of sickness, then it is likely seasonal allergies rather than a cold.

What to do: If your kid is over age 2, you could try giving them a non-sedating antihistamine to see if their symptoms subside. Keep in mind, though, that seasonal allergies typically don’t develop until a child is 6. You should always talk to your kid’s doctor before giving medication.

Dry, scaly rash

What it means: Eczema, which typically appears during an infant’s first year, may be triggered by certain foods in your baby’s diet, but it is also known to be an inherited condition. The good news is 80 percent of children who have eczema will outgrow it. The tricky part: it may make way for another type of allergy, Chad says. “We call this evolution from one allergy to another the ‘allergic march.’”

What to do: A daily bath and then using a moisturizer protects the skin barrier. If the eczema persists or gets worse, make an appointment with your kid’s doctor.

A stubborn cough (that’s triggered when your kid laughs, cries, runs around or becomes nervous)

What it means: If the cough persists for weeks or months and is accompanied by other cold-like symptoms—itchy, watery eyes, stuffy, runny nose—it may be a sign of asthma triggered by dust, pollen, pollution or pets.

What to do: The first thing is to track it—take note of when the coughing occurs and what seems to trigger it. Does your child dissolve into a hacking fit at the same time of day or time of year? It’s also important to ensure it’s not a cold or virus and that environmental factors—like common germs at daycare, smokers or a wood burning stove at home—are not to blame. Once all of those possibilities are eliminated and a proper history has been taken, your doctor will prescribe a course of action.

Vomiting and abdominal pain shortly after eating

What it means When a child has a food allergy, there’s no delay to the signs—symptoms like projectile vomiting, respiratory and skin reactions, and, less commonly diarrhea and hives, appear quickly, typically within minutes to a half an hour, and no more than two hours after eating. Common food triggers in infants include milk, eggs, nuts, sesame and soy, while wheat and shellfish allergies usually show up in older children and adults, Chad says.

What to do Parents should consult with their child’s doctor immediately in the case of symptoms like vomiting and respiratory issues. And if your child is having difficulty breathing you should call an ambulance right away. For other symptoms Chad recommends parents keep a food diary, track reactions and try to eliminate questionable foods to see if the reaction persists.

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Your Guide to a DIY Mother’s Day

It’s finally May. Flowers are blooming, birds are singing, and the weather is getting warmer. It’s a nice distraction from all the COVID-19 related stress and anxiety we’ve been dealing with these past few weeks. But you know what else is coming up? Mother’s Day! And that means shopping for gifts. Did you know that consumers spend over $25 billion on Mother’s Day?! Whoa! That’s a lot of flowers and spa gift cards. But did you also know that a survey of mom’s found that a clean house or a full night’s sleep topped the list of most-wanted gifts? So, rather than dropping a bunch of cash on things your mom (or wife, or daughter, or friend) doesn’t really want, show them just how much you care with these DIY Mother’s Day gift ideas:

Write a Mother’s Day Letter

Life, on a normal day, is full of responsibilities, tasks, and to-dos. The days are long but the years are short and we sometimes lose perspective. If there is a new mom (or a seasoned one) in your life, they may be too exhausted to remember the little things. Or, worse yet, they may feel unrecognized for the hard work they’ve silently put into bearing and raising their children. Write them a letter to remind them. Remind them of how superhuman they were during labor and delivery. Share a memory of how their loving touch calmed their crying baby. Show them gratitude for how much of themselves they have sacrificed to be a doting, dedicated mother. Sometimes we need validation for what we’ve done, to remind us that we’re doing it right. A heartfelt letter for Mother’s Day is a perfect way to do just that.

Get Everyone out of the House (Mom Excluded)

OK, I know this one is tricky, especially since we are supposed to be social distancing. But there are some safe activities you can do outside of the house so mom can have some alone time. Take the kiddos for a long drive or go on a hike. If leaving the house isn’t an option, arrange to give the mom in your life as much space as possible. For example, if she wants to be in the yard, you and the kiddos play in the house and vice versa.

Print Some Family Photos

Since the invention of smartphones, we have all become amateur photographers. Mindlessly snapping photos of everything in our lives. Which can catch great memories and be a lot of fun. But you know what we don’t do anymore? Print those photos. And what’s the fun in that? As a Mother’s Day gift, consider printing out a visual timeline of her journey to (and through) motherhood. There are a lot of great online printing services where you can upload your images and have them mailed to you. That way you can maintain your social distancing and still have give a thoughtful gift. Win-win.

Take her Place

Now, I don’t literally mean kick her out of her role as a mom, but I do mean take on her tasks. If you are quarantined with your mom or your wife/friend/sister who is a mom, then take over the chores she usually does. Women, even in 2020, still do the bulk of household chores. So, take it upon yourself to do the dishes, the laundry, make a grocery list and go shopping, scrub the bathroom floor, etc. Let her have a day free of those responsibilities.

Or better yet…

Hire a Postpartum Doula for the Day/Night

Did you know that postpartum doulas do dishes? Laundry? Cook? Overnight care? Yup. We do it all. We are like magical little faeries who come into you home and make order out of chaos. If the mom in your life needs a good night’s sleep (or a nap), needs to take a break, or just wants someone to talk to about any concerns, then give us a call. We are available to work any hour of the day, any day of the week. Book a postpartum doula for a few hours, or for 10. We can meet whatever needs you have!

Have a new mom or soon-to-be mom in your life? What better gift than the gift of a postpartum doula. We offer a-la-carte, package, and gift certificate options. Check out our services and book your spot today!  952-942-5676 or care@welcomebabycare.com

The post Your Guide to a DIY Mother’s Day appeared first on Welcome Baby Care.

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Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms

May is Maternal Mental Health Month with today (May 6th) dedicated as Maternal Mental Health Day. All month long we will be discussing postpartum mental health. We thought we would start our series by defining and discussing postpartum depression signs and symptoms.

We often think that life is joyful, loving, and blissfully happy for everyone when a new baby arrives. But that’s not always the case. Sadly, many new parents are left to navigate their new world alone. This can be especially hard for mom. When you just spent 9+ months having your needs catered to, the sudden lack of interest in your well-being can be jarring. It is estimated that nearly 900,000 women experience postpartum depression in the United States each year. That is shocking. Especially since so many women and families experience it in silence. So, today we are going to have a candid discussion about postpartum depression, its signs and symptoms, and how to treat it. 

What are the “Baby Blues”?

After giving birth, it is common to experience mild symptoms of sadness known as “baby blues”.  Common signs of baby blues include:

  • crying spells
  • mood swings
  • anxiety
  • sadness
  • irritability
  • foggy-headedness
  • trouble sleeping

These symptoms are very common in postpartum women and are nothing to be alarmed about. The baby blues are short-lived, typically lasting from a few days to a few weeks.

What is Postpartum Depression (PPD)?

More than just baby blues, postpartum depression is a severe onset of depression experienced after giving birth. It can occur as quickly as hours after delivery or as long as a year past the birth of your child. On average, postpartum depression occurs in the first three months after having your new baby. Conservative estimates show that upwards of 15% of new moms experience postpartum depression.

Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms

As we mentioned earlier, it is common for new moms to experience baby blues. However, if the symptoms remain or become more severe it could be postpartum depression. Signs of postpartum depression are:

  • Depressed mood or severe mood swings
  • Excessive crying
  • Difficulty bonding with your baby
  • Withdrawing from family and friends
  • Loss of appetite or eating much more than usual
  • Inability to sleep (insomnia) or sleeping too much
  • Overwhelming fatigue or loss of energy
  • Reduced interest and pleasure in activities you used to enjoy
  • Intense irritability and anger
  • Fear that you’re not a good mother
  • Hopelessness
  • Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt or inadequacy
  • Diminished ability to think clearly, concentrate or make decisions
  • Restlessness
  • Severe anxiety and panic attacks
  • Thoughts of harming yourself or your baby
  • Recurrent thoughts of death or suicide

Developing Postpartum Depression

If you develop postpartum depression, it is important to know that it is not because of anything you did wrong. PPD has nothing to do with how strong or capable you are. And it is definitely not a prediction of what type of mother you will be. Postpartum depression can happen for a lot of different reasons. Pregnancy, delivery, nursing, and caring for a baby are very taxing on your body, mind, and spirit. You may have a family history of depression which can make you more susceptible. Perhaps you are lacking a strong support system or your baby was born with special needs. Even your birthing experience can affect your postpartum mental health. 

Postpartum Psychosis

If you develop postpartum depression, please do not feel ashamed. And please know that it is perfectly acceptable, if not required, to seek help. If left untreated, PPD can last for months or even years. In rare cases, postpartum depression can evolve into postpartum psychosis. Symptoms of psychosis include:

  • hallucinations or delusions
  • obsessive thoughts about your baby
  • paranoia
  • sleep disturbances
  • excessive energy or agitation
  • confusion or disorientation
  • attempts to harm herself or her baby

In those rare cases seek medical attention immediately or call 9-1-1

Treating Postpartum Depression

If you are dealing with the baby blues or even postpartum depression how do you know if you should “ride it out” or get help?  Well, it is important to monitor your symptoms to keep track of any shifts in your well-being. If your symptoms don’t fade after a few weeks, get worse, or make it difficult to care for yourself or your baby it’s time to seek medical attention.

There are several options for managing postpartum depression. The most common treatments are:

  • counseling
  • drug-therapy
  • hormone therapy

Treatment for postpartum psychosis may require:

  • removal from the home
  • hospitalization
  • antipsychotic drug therapy

Final Thoughts

After receiving treatment for PPD, it can take a few weeks to feel like yourself again. Certain lifestyle changes in conjunction with medical treatment can have a double impact on your symptom relief. Regular exercise, a healthy diet, making time for yourself, and finding a support system are all important steps to take when managing postpartum depression. 

It is also important to remember not to put too much pressure on yourself as a new mom. During your postpartum time, you are experiencing massive changes in your body, and in your sense of self. You are navigating your new role as a mother and redefining your old role as a partner. Your hormones are trying to rebalance and you’re most likely sleep-deprived. It is OK to feel overwhelmed. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it and if you aren’t feeling joyful all the time, that’s OK. Most importantly, know that we love you, believe in you, and are always here for you whenever you need a support system, reach out anytime: 952-942-5676

If you or someone you know is exhibiting signs of postpartum depression, please seek help. If they are showing signs of postpartum psychosis or expressing suicidal thoughts or desires to hurt their baby, please call 9-1-1. Don’t wait for improvement, act NOW.

The post Postpartum Depression Signs and Symptoms appeared first on Welcome Baby Care.

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How to design the ultimate nursery

Ready to start nesting for that new babe, but don’t know where to start? Figuring out the perfect nursery decor doesn’t need to be complicated. We talked to the brains behind these four kids’ rooms to get some simple strategies for pulling together your own baby’s cozy escape.

1. Pretty in pink

Lifestyle influencer Jillian Harris’s daughter’s nursery is the stuff of fairy tales, with its cotton-candy-pink accents and oversized feathery friends.

jillian harris nursery decor baby room

Photo: Rachelle Beatty

Jillian’s tips

Pick a focal point

Instead of choosing a theme for the nursery, Harris recommends finding one thing you really love (like the wallpaper) and using that to inspire your other choices.

Choose pieces they can grow with

Harris purchased a large dresser (in place of a change table) that can be used for clothing well beyond the baby stage.

Go big with curtains

Floor-to-ceiling, wall-to-wall curtains give the room a feeling of spaciousness and add a pop of colour and texture, says Harris. If custom curtains aren’t in the budget, doctor up inexpensive drapes with a glue gun and decorative pompoms from a craft shop.

Invest in the right pieces

“A rocker or a glider is great for when they’re babies, but it’s also a space where they can curl up and read a book as they get older,” says Harris.

Purge!

Once a month, Harris spends an hour or two sorting her kids’ clothes to remove anything that no longer fits. This makes bedtime and getting dressed easier and also ensures the room isn’t filled with unnecessary clutter.

Get the look

products from jillian harris nursery decor baby room

Pehr pom pom pint storage bin, $28, bedbathandbeyond.comMelissa and Doug flamingo, $140, indigo.caPaladino 6-light traditional chandelier, $537, wayfair.ca“To the Stars” framed print, from $24, minted.com.

2. Bohemian jungle

DIY details and a wall-sized mural make Two’s a Party influencer Sana Alvi’s boho-meets-jungle nursery truly one of a kind.

bohemian nursery decor baby room

Photo: Sana Alvi

Sana’s tips

Don’t get overwhelmed

With so many places for parents to shop, Alvi stuck to one store (she loves Buy Buy Baby) for staple items, like the crib and dresser.

Do a feature wall

Alvi fell in love with this bold wall-paper mural, which became the centrepiece of the room.

Add personal touches

Alvi made this DIY tassel chandelier, which brings some personality to the space.

Don’t overstimulate

If you’re going to have pattern and pops of colour, Alvi suggests keeping other items clean and neutral.

Get the look

nursery decor products

Fela tasseled chandelier, $248, anthropologie.com; tan leather pouf, $120, babasouk.ca; jungle wallpaper, from $245, annetweelinkdesign.com; Babyletto Lolly 3-in-1 crib, $549, westcoastkids.ca; Distinctly Home Marketplace fringe area rug, $80, thebay.com.

3. Minimalism and clean lines

With clean lines and sophisticated furnishings, interior designer Montana Burnett created a nursery that is elegant and stylish.

minimalist nursery

Photo: Montana Burnett Design

Montana’s tips

The nursery should match the house

By sticking with a neutral colour palette and pops of bright colour, Burnett and her team kept the nursery design consistent with the rest of the home.

Keep the walls interesting

“Walls are a great place to add visual interest. We painted one-quarter of the walls black and had wooden animal cut-outs placed along the bottom, which acts as a modern landscape,” says Burnett. “Using wall space for decoration also lets you avoid cluttering the space with unneeded accessories.”

Work with what you’ve got

The space already had a beautiful ceiling detail that she wanted to accentuate, so by placing the crib directly under it, that area naturally became the room’s focal point.

Get the look

products to get the nursery look

Large fan, $42, vdevmaison.com; cushion cover with tassels, $20, hm.com; Westinghouse 28-Inch Cape May ceiling medallion, $119, homedepot.ca; Mud Pie unicorn wall mount, $75, westcoastkids.ca; FLÅDIS seagrass basket, $15, ikea.com.

4. The big kid transition

Moving into a big-kid bed doesn’t have to mean a bigger room. Interior designer Nyla Free shows us how to make the most of small-space living.

kids bedroom by nyla free

Photo: Phil Crozier

Nyla’s tips

Take advantage of height

Even though children are small and can’t reach high places, it’s still beneficial to use the height in a room, says Free. It’s a great way to increase storage, especially in a compact space, while also adding impact.

Choose a colour scheme with longevity

Rather than redecorating the entire room every three to five years, Free suggests enhancing or updating what you have with simple, cost-effective changes like a new paint colour or fresh bedding.

Under-the-bed storage is your friend

Whether you create built-in storage, as Free did in this room, or you use baskets and bins, this oft-forgotten space is within reach for even the littlest of kids, making it an ideal place for toys and books.

Make it their own

Try incorporating a favourite colour or a special design to create an aesthetic they will look forward to spending time in, says Free. “Creating a positive space for children builds confidence and an environment they feel safe and comfortable in.”

Get the look

products to buy from nursery

Esra Polychrome 5 x 7 rug, $288, ruggable.com; paper mache fox head, $44, crateandkids.ca; Skyline Furniture MFG kid’s tub chair, $305, homedepot.ca; Aurelia art print by Tracie Andrews, from $27, society6.com.


Editor’s note:

We hope you enjoyed reading this article from Today’s Parent. We’re working hard to provide our readers with daily digital articles that aim to inform, inspire and entertain you.

But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors and production staff. We do not make this ask lightly, but if you are able to afford it, a year-long subscription to the print edition of Today’s Parent is only $15. A subscription also makes a great gift for that new parent in your life.

Our magazine has endured for more than 35 years by investing in important parenting stories. If you can, please make a contribution to our continued future and subscribe here.

Thank you.

Kim Shiffman

Editor-in-Chief, Today’s Parent

Categories
Uncategorized

Postpartum sex: Why you don’t want it—and why that’s OK

Of all the alarming and deeply inexplicable aspects of becoming a new mother, the one I found most unnerving was the way strangers began suddenly asking about my sex life. For 35 blissful years, no one but me (and, to varying degrees, my partners) seemed remotely interested in the state of my libido. And then suddenly, only a few months after I’d gained a third of my body weight and experienced the joy of a small human driving a Mack truck through my pelvic floor, everyone was suddenly going on about it—doctors, midwives, friends, family members and the media (news outlets in general, but women’s magazines and mom bloggers in particular). Looking back, the questions started in late pregnancy: Did I want it more? Did I want it less? Was I dreaming about it? Was my vulva swollen like a grapefruit? Had I watched the YouTube video of that woman having an orgasm water birth?

I assumed everyone would lose interest after the aforementioned incident with the Mack truck, but if anything, people brought it up more, not less. Almost four years after giving birth (for what I am delighted to say is most definitely the last time ever), I’m finally beginning to understand why people are so interested in whether or not new moms are getting laid. It’s because—hold the front page—having a baby often massively and irrevocably messes with a woman’s sex drive. Not just our sexual appetite, but also our bodies and every aspect of the way we think of sex.

This should be obvious. Having a baby changes a woman’s relationship to almost everything. My own experience of matrescence (the identity shift into motherhood) was as powerfully disorienting as Kafka’s Metamorphosis. And yet, it’s often not spoken of as a transformation so much as a yoke to be cast off. Most of us still talk about “getting our bodies back” or “restoring” our sex lives, as though what’s required to have great sex post-kids is a time machine.

A whole new normal

“There is no going back—not after kids,” says Kelly Swartz, a Toronto-based erotic expert, sex coach and mother of three who offers counselling and workshops for women struggling with sexuality and libido loss in the wake of motherhood. The first thing she does with clients is explode the myth that they need to revert to an idealized, carefree, pre-kids sexual self. That’s impossible, because so much will have changed. “After having a baby, it’s just a different kind of sex and connection,” she says. Many clients come to her looking to re-establish their sex lives, but what they actually need is “a complete reacquaintance” with their body and themselves. It’s all intertwined.

Swartz’s words rang true for me. After I had kids, every major relationship in my life (professional, social, romantic, familial) had to be renegotiated, boundaries redrawn. It was such a disorienting time that the question of sex began to seem almost beside the point. If I ever thought of it, which I did more and more rarely, it seemed a trivial pleasure from a previous life stage—something I might do if I had the time and strong inclination, like getting a massage. But it’s not irrelevant. Why? Because for women, the subjects of sex and sexual desire are often much more complicated and potentially transformative than we believe at first. Having a baby makes it possible to ignore this for a while until, quite suddenly, it isn’t.

Before I continue, a disclaimer: It’s not entirely fair to generalize about any experience as wildly diverse as birth, sex and motherhood. Not all new parents are hetero-normative, cis-gendered couples in which the mother experiences a dulled libido after birth and the father is present, accounted for and generally well up for it. And yet for the purposes of this article, I’m going to generalize as if this were true, because the experts I spoke to say it’s a common situation. If you are, in fact, a new mom experiencing the thrill of polyamorous anal sex six times a day, I apologize. Enjoy!

As for the rest of us, the sex thing after kids is complicated because, as Swartz explains, “for many women, sex drive doesn’t just magically re-establish itself after birth. It often requires care and attention.” This in itself is a key to understanding that something much deeper is going on than a temporary loss of mojo. But what exactly?

In her critically acclaimed 2018 memoir And Now We Have Everything, author Meaghan O’Connell writes with bracing candour about the experience of accidentally becoming pregnant in her late 20s and, with the support of her long-term boyfriend, deciding to take the plunge. The chapter on sex blew me away. O’Connell writes movingly about how she lost all interest in it for the first year or so after she had her baby. “I not only didn’t want to have sex,” she writes, “I would have preferred it did not exist.”

To me, this summed up the cruel irony of postpartum libido loss. At first you don’t notice it’s happening because your focus is so squarely on your baby. But before you know it, having not much sex has become the new normal.

When my kids were small, I remember having lunch with a wise older woman who, when I made a wisecrack about my low post-baby libido, cautioned me to “be careful about that.” I struggled to contain my indignance. Was this woman actually suggesting I needed to “put out” whether I wanted to or not in order to keep my marriage intact? What a pathetic, retrograde assumption. I was livid.

It was only much later I realized this woman may have been trying to convey something far more nuanced: Intimacy and sexual desire are necessarily altered by the experience of motherhood and, while that’s entirely expected, it’s also important not to wall off that part of yourself completely. The fact is, desire and intimacy, once lost, can be difficult to re-establish, says Arantxa De Dios, a UK-based counsellor and hypnotherapist who works with new moms. Being aware of negative thought patterns about sex, says De Dios, is key to changing them before they become habit.

empty bed with rumpled sheets

Photo: Stocksy United

Wanting to want it

Is there anything more depressing to contemplate than wanting to want to have sex? And yet this is precisely how so many new mothers feel. It’s not so much that they miss sex but they miss missing it. And yet, in the fraught, exhausting “fourth trimester,” the idea of not needing something, anything, is somewhat of a relief. In the postpartum months, libido loss is a physiological reality. After birth, new mothers experience a sharp drop in estrogen, the hormone that makes us feel sexually inclined and helps to lube up our nether regions when we do. Women who breastfeed also experience a sharp rise in a hormone called prolactin, which stimulates milk production and further drives down estrogen. Add to this the fact that the brains of many new moms are flooded with oxytocin, the so-called “cuddle hormone,” which promotes infant bonding in a way that makes us more interested in snuggling our newborn than getting down and dirty with our partners. Basically, evolution doesn’t want us to have sex when we have a newborn to care for, so it created a hormonal antidote to horniness. The tricky part comes when those hormones subside and a mom still doesn’t want it, or at least wants to want it but doesn’t.

Beyond hormones

Your sex drive can stay depressed post-baby for all sorts of reasons, most of which are situational rather than hormonal. New moms report feeling “touched out” at the end of a day with their baby, not to mention feeling flat-out exhausted. Add to this the lingering effects of pregnancy and birth-related body changes, plus the attendant body-image issues experienced by many women, as well as stress and anxiety, and it’s no wonder sex becomes an afterthought.

More rare, though not uncommon, are post-birth medical issues. I had surgery for prolapse of the bladder after the traumatic birth of my second son. At the time, my gynaecological surgeon told me that many moms are so ashamed they simply live with the condition for life. A girlfriend of mine experienced excruciating and persistent pain during sex after her first birth and eventually underwent a surgical repair of her original episiotomy to fix the problem. Issues like these don’t exactly make women feel sexy.

The most commonly ignored factors of all when it comes to post-birth sex are the emotional and psychological factors. Not just postpartum depression—which has decent awareness these days, finally—but birth trauma and maternal anxiety, both of which clearly have a dampening effect on desire.

Moving forward

Therapy is often recommended for new moms wanting to want to have sex, because it can uncover issues that may have pre-dated your baby’s birth, as well as deal with new ones. De Dios, for one, recommends hypnotherapy since it works on the sub-conscious mind—ground zero for human desire. Hypnotherapy is controversial, but there is also evidence it works (if only in a suggestive way). In sessions with moms, De Dios works on shifting subtle patterns. For example, with a new mom dealing with poor body image, she might work on encouraging the mind to reframe self-perception. “Instead of always focusing on your postpartum belly, you learn to focus on something you like about yourself—your gorgeous boobs or your glowing skin,” she says. It sounds simplistic but De Dios swears it can work.

When the underlying psychological issues are more benign, Swartz recommends that her clients start taking that much maligned term “self-care” seriously. After a baby, even the most basic pleasures can seem like a huge indulgence, so she instructs her clients to clear the time and make a fixed date with themselves. Go to a café, say, and read a book alone while savouring a hot drink. She asks women to explicitly ask their partners to assist in this project.

Many women wisecrack about how “hot” they find it if their husband does the dishes or vacuums the stairs, but according to Swartz, it’s no joke. Resentment can build against a partner who isn’t shouldering their share of household responsibilities, and resentment doesn’t usually lead to sexy time.

Many new moms put everyone else’s needs first. “They can no longer access their desire because they’ve gone so long not feeling entitled to it, they’ve almost forgotten how,” she says. A good portion of her clients even feel like it would be wrong to masturbate since they’re not having sex with their husbands.

Evolving identities

For many women, the whole notion of sexual desire changes after having a kid. So much of what turns us on as young women is crudely performative and socially conditioned. Even without being explicitly told, we learn that we are only entitled to feel hot if we’re hot in the eyes of men (or women who have been conditioned to view the world as the eyes of men).

After babies, I felt free from this crap, and was able to see how undeveloped and backward my pre-birth sexual identity had been. I came of age in the 2000s—a time when vajazzling, Brazilian waxes and leaked celebrity sex tapes were seen as integral components of a kind of pop-feminism we’d convinced ourselves to embrace. What the hell was all that about?

Like many women, after having kids, I discovered I was no longer interested in the performance of sex—the arousal that comes with being an object, rather than an agent, of desire. I was done pretending. No, not in the orgasm department (I’ve always been a bad liar). I mean, in every other aspect of physical intimacy. I was done with acquiescence, done with waxing and plucking and exercising myself into submission just so I could be allowed to “feel sexy.” I was done with the feeling that the only pleasure I truly deserved was the pleasure of pleasing a man and that anything else was shameful and dangerous. If I was going to enjoy sex again, I needed to figure out how to enjoy it selfishly, greedily, on my own terms. The irony of all female desire, of course, is that it often dovetails neatly with the neglected partner’s wants and needs. What husband doesn’t long for his wife to want sex as much as he does? It’s that basic.

Instead of neutralizing my sexual self, motherhood eventually led me to access and understand my desire more deeply— but only after a period of reflection. As Swartz says, it’s important for women to see the post-baby period as a time of transition rather than rush to go back. “The true sexual journey,” she puts it, “is about a woman’s intimacy with herself.”

***

Editor’s note:

We hope you enjoyed reading this article from Today’s Parent. We’re working hard to provide our readers with daily digital articles that aim to inform, inspire and entertain you.

But content is not free. It’s built on the hard work and dedication of writers, editors and production staff. We do not make this ask lightly, but if you are able to afford it, a year-long subscription to the print edition of Today’s Parent is only $15. A subscription also makes a great gift for that new parent in your life.

Our magazine has endured for more than 35 years by investing in important parenting stories. If you can, please make a contribution to our continued future and subscribe here.

Thank you.

Kim Shiffman

Editor-in-Chief, Today’s Parent

Categories
Uncategorized

Help! My Child Bangs Their Head to Go to Sleep


baby on crib

Thunk! Thunk! Each night you hear a rhythmic thumping coming from your baby’s room, and it’s happening so often that it’s causing you alarm. If your child bangs their head to go to sleep, you’re not alone. Let’s take a look at why the headbanging is happening and what can be done about it.

What is causing my child to bang their head to go to sleep?

When a baby keeps hitting their head on their crib, it’s alarming to parents. And, you’re likely here because you’re dealing with it right now. The first thing you need to know is that headbanging is common.

Headbanging episodes are typically short—around 15-minutes or so—but can also last over an hour in duration. When your baby keeps hitting their head on their crib, they’re often attempting to self-soothe.

Why headbanging happens

Your little one is banging their head on their crib in an attempt to soothe themself, which means that something else is going on. While it may just be their way of going to sleep on their own, there are other reasons why your child bangs their head to go to sleep.

Babies and toddlers will often bang their heads on their cribs because they’re in pain, frustrated, seeking attention, or have an underlying medical issue. Babies aren’t able to express themselves through speech, so when they experience dull pain—like an earache or tooth eruption—they may turn to physicality. Toddlers, who are learning independence, may use head banging as a way of expressing anger or frustration.

However, there are times when the headbanging may be a sign of an underlying medical issue. So, if your baby keeps hitting their head on their crib for extended periods or it continues for weeks on end, it warrants putting a call through to your pediatrician.

What you can do

If you are concerned about your baby’s behavior, always give your pediatrician a call. If the banging just started, take some time to look for a root issue. Is the banging in response to something? Does your baby have any new teeth emerging or show any other signs of illness? Are they seeking attention or response?

If the causes are more behavioral, take time during the day to help your toddler express themselves if they’re angry or frustrated.

What not to do

When your child bangs their head to go to sleep, your first inclination is likely to add padding to your little one’s crib. Please don’t—it’s dangerous to add additional blankets and padding, no matter how safely secured you think they are. Babies typically aren’t banging their heads hard enough to hurt themselves severely. Instead, add a “lovey” or another safe attachment object to your baby’s crib, so that they have something outside of themselves to self-soothe.

If you’re in the Philadelphia area and are wondering, “ is there a sleep consultant near me?” The answer is, “yes!” I’d be happy to work with you to create a comforting sleep routine for your little one. Please contact me to schedule a complimentary 15-minute phone call.

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