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Breastfeeding for beginners 2018-03-29T10:31:46+00:00

Breastfeeding for beginners

Every baby is different, every new mum is different, and even if you’ve breastfed successfully before, you may find it more tricky second or third time round or vice versa.  In that sense, we’re all breastfeeding beginners, but first time around it’s only natural to have some concerns before you even begin.  Will your breast shape or size affect your ability to feed?  Will you produce enough milk?  Will you be able to do it?  Rest assured that whatever shape or size of your breasts they are all able to produce milk when the time comes, and their appearance is not a factor governing your ability to breastfeed. In fact the breasts only store a small amount of milk in the ducts; it’s the milk-producing cells that determine milk production.

Breastfeeding works by supply and demand; as long as your baby suckles frequently the milk will be there for him as he needs it. The keys to success in the early days are frequent feeding and correct positioning.

During pregnancy, you might have found that you started to produce a little breast milk which leaked out from time to time. This is quite normal, but it is equally normal not to produce any. You may find that if you gently squeeze your nipple, some drops of milk will appear towards the end of your pregnancy.

There is no need to make any physical preparations for breastfeeding. You can ignore any old wives’ tales that you hear about toughening up your nipples (thank goodness!). However, finding out about breastfeeding from someone who has breastfed their children, and having the phone number of a breastfeeding counsellor, will mean that you are as well prepared as you can be.

Many first-time mothers find getting breastfeeding established difficult and combined with the baby blues it can be a very emotional time. Problems will not go away on their own so ask for help and support immediately, or you may be put off breastfeeding altogether.

First feeds

After your baby is born, you should offer him a feed as soon he is interested. Many mothers feed immediately after delivery, and there is evidence that the sooner breastfeeding begins, the more likely you are to be successful. But don’t worry if you don’t get off to a text-book start. A strong desire to breastfeed will make up for any delay. If you are keen to breastfeed, you should write this down in your birth plan, so the hospital staff can help you.

Your baby will follow his own pattern of feeding, but it is not unusual for the first 24 hours to be fairly quiet, as he rests after the birth. After that, you may find that he is feeding erratically; maybe every hour for five hours, and then a four-hour sleep. But there is no pattern, no rights and wrongs, apart from letting your baby feed when he wants to. Don’t expect any routine to be emerging at this stage, and just rest when you can.

A good feeding position is vital during these first days. While a certain amount of discomfort at the beginning of a feed is not unusual, severe pain throughout the feed is sending you a message that something is wrong. Very often, the pain is caused by the baby being poorly positioned at the breast, which can be quickly remedied.

First milk

For the first few days your breasts contain colostrum, a highly concentrated creamy milk which is brimming with antibodies, proteins, vitamins and anti-infective agents.

At this stage your breasts won’t look any different, and because the amount of colostrum your baby needs is small, you may think that you’re not producing anything. But you are, and you should let the baby suckle whenever he wants to. His suckling will stimulate your system into producing mature milk, and frequent suckling in these first few days will help prevent engorgement when the milk does come in.

Mature milk

After two or three days mature milk will appear. You will notice your breasts getting bigger and heavier as the volume of milk being produced increases, and that the milk becomes thinner and whiter.

At every feed your milk will include foremilk and hindmilk. The foremilk is a thirst-quenching drink, high in lactose (milk sugar) but low in fat, while the hindmilk that follows on is higher in fat and very important for your baby’s growth.

Restricting the time your baby is at the breast can mean he gets too much foremilk and not enough hindmilk. This means he will become hungry again quite quickly, and may make him colicky. Let him feed for as long as he wants at one breast, to ensure he gets sufficient hindmilk.

Making plenty of milk

The more you feed your baby, the more milk you will make. Suckling acts as a trigger for producing more of it. Therefore, so long as your baby is well positioned on the breast and feeding regularly, he will be getting plenty of food.

If your baby isn’t properly latched on, not only will you find it very painful, but also he won’t be able to take the milk he is ordering. You will make more and more milk, but he won’t be removing it, which may lead to you becoming engorged, or developing mastitis.

If you are uncertain about the positioning, please ask your midwife – you’ll be amazed at the difference finding the correct position can make.

Some mothers worry about the amount of milk their baby is getting because it’s impossible to see how much the baby takes. There are other ways of identifying whether your baby is feeding well and has plenty of breast milk. If he’s producing plenty of wet nappies, is bright and alert and gaining weight steadily, then you can be reassured that he is getting all the milk he needs. If you feel concerned, ask your midwife or health visitor for advice.

Here’s how to maximise the amount of milk you make for your baby:

  • Get the positioning checked by your breastfeeding counsellor or midwife
  • Put the baby to the breast frequently
  • Rest more. Have a ‘babymoon’; go back to bed with your baby for 24 hours and just rest and feed together
  • If your baby is very sleepy, ill or premature, express milk after a feed to keep your supply up
  • If your problems have lasted some time, start all over again. Imagine that your baby is newborn, help him to latch on correctly and offer him lots of feeds

Positions for breastfeeding

Finding a feeding position that is comfortable is very important. There will be times when you are feeding for some time, and if you don’t feel relaxed and comfortable, you will want to end the feed as soon as possible, rather than when your baby has finished.

  • In the first few days you may find it helps to sit in an upright chair and bring the baby up to the right height by lying him on one or two pillows
  • You should have plenty of support for your back and neck – try leaning against a pillow or two
  • You may also want to raise the level of your feet so that your lap isn’t sloping downwards. Use a low stool, some magazines or a cushion under your feet
  • Mothers who have had a Caesarean section often prefer to feed lying down in order to avoid the baby pressing on the wound
  • For the first few feeds you may need the help and support of your midwife to position the baby properly

By experimenting you will quickly find positions that feel comfortable for you and will be able to feed your baby either sitting up or lying down.

Your baby’s position is also important:

  • Your baby’s whole body should be facing your breast, so he should be lying on his side rather than on his back whether you are feeding him sitting up or lying down
  • His body should be in a straight line, so that he doesn’t have to turn his head to feed
  • He should be tucked in as close to you as possible

So long as you remember these three rules, you can feed in any position you choose. As you become more confident you will be able to feed standing up, or sitting cross legged, but most mothers take a few weeks to get to that stage, so take your time finding the right way for you.

Latching on

A vital ingredient of successful breastfeeding is getting your baby properly latched on, which means attaching him to the breast with a wide open mouth.

Some babies seem to do this instinctively from the start, and others need to be encouraged. Your baby will learn the right method quickly if you always wait for his open mouth before he latches on.

When you are ready to start a feed:

  • Make sure your baby’s nose is opposite your nipple
  • Move your baby close to you and stroke his mouth or cheek with your finger or nipple. He should respond by opening his mouth and turning towards the stimulus. This is the rooting reflex
  • Move your baby towards you so he can take the breast. He should take as much as possible, so that your nipple rests against his upper palate and his tongue is underneath. If the nipple is far enough back in his mouth, it won’t move during the feed, and shouldn’t get sore

Look for the following evidence of a good latch:

  • Open mouth, with bottom lip curled back
  • Baby’s chin touching your breast
  • Mouth and jaw movement
  • Tops of ears wiggling slightly as he sucks
  • Most of the areola (the pigmented area of skin around the nipple) in the baby’s mouth

He isn’t well latched on if:

  • You can hear a clicking noise
  • You can see his cheeks are sucked in
  • You feel pain throughout the feed rather than a slight initial soreness

If he isn’t latched on correctly, take him off and start again.

Let-down

There will always be some foremilk ready for your baby to drink when he latches on to the breast. When he starts to suck, the milk-producing cells then start to squeeze hindmilk forward into the ducts leading to the nipple so that it is there for him to take.

This is called the let-down reflex. A tingling sensation or pins and needles in your breast, as well as some leaking of milk in the non-feeding breast, sometimes accompany it. You may also feel a sense of calm and relaxation come over you. It isn’t always obvious, so don’t worry if you don’t feel anything. So long as your baby is thriving on your milk, it will be happening anyway.

In the first few days after the birth, you may feel stomach cramps when the let-down takes place. This is because the hormone oxytocin, which stimulates the let-down, also causes the womb to contract, helping it to return to its original shape. These contractions will only last for a day or so, if at all; many first-time mothers don’t experience them.

As your body adjusts to breastfeeding, you may find that the let-down is triggered by hearing a baby crying, or even just thinking about your baby.

Initial soreness

For the first week or so many women experience some initial soreness. This is not surprising really since your breasts and have been safely tucked away inside bras for years. Good positioning will prevent soreness developing into a problem and your breasts will become less sensitive.

You can help minimise soreness by:

  • Making sure the baby is properly latched on. Get help from your midwife or breastfeeding counsellor if you are not sure
  • Leaving your bra off for short periods, unless you find it uncomfortable, so your breasts get some fresh air
  • Rubbing in a little expressed breast milk at the end of a feed and allowing it to dry on the skin
  • Some women like to use nipple creams, but these can cause problems. They may need to be washed off before a feed, which can be uncomfortable if you are sore. Any cream left on the nipple can make the breast slippery, so the baby does not latch on properly. If you do find using a cream helps, choose one that can be put on after a feed and allowed to soak in before the next feed (homeopathic creams work in this way). Use it sparingly.

Taking your baby off

One of the most frequently asked questions about breastfeeding is: how do I know when my baby has finished a feed? Very often, your baby appears to be fast asleep at the end of the feed, but as soon as you try to gently extricate yourself, he starts to suck vigorously again.

As you get to know your baby better, a pattern will begin to emerge, and you will see how long he tends to take for a feed. You are an important factor in this as well. There may be times when you are able to let him doze and suck for an extra half hour, and other times when that isn’t possible.

The baby’s grip on the breast can be very firm, so it is important to break the suction before moving him. If you try to pull your nipple out of his mouth, you may find you get very sore.

You should break the suction by putting a clean little finger in the corner of his mouth, which will release the hold and allow you to gently remove him.

Baby-led feeding

Breastfeeding is governed by the principle of supply and demand, which your baby will instinctively be able to control. The action of feeding triggers a reaction by your body to make more milk for the next feed.

This is why it works best to feed your baby on demand, when he indicates that he wants to feed, rather than by the clock. If you do this your body will be perfectly attuned to the nutritional needs of your baby and will make the correct amount of milk.

This does mean that you will be doing a lot of feeding in the first week or two, perhaps more than you anticipated. If you can, use this time to rest and relax. As your baby grows, there will be more room in his stomach to accommodate a larger feed, and he will also be able to take a feed more quickly, so this phase shouldn’t last too long.

By feeding on demand, your milk supply will quickly become established, and within weeks you should start to see a pattern emerging.

Planning a party for your little Easter bunnies! 2018-03-29T10:24:08+00:00

Its that special time of year when the house is filled with chocolate eggs, the evenings become lighter, daffodils are popping up and Easter is approaching. We’ve got some advice from party experts Wish Upon a Party on making sure your Easter event is practically perfect in every way….

Planning an Easter event for friends or a local event? We have some professional tips and advice to help your event run as smoothly as milk chocolate!

Easter egg hunts are the perfect way to enjoy the Easter weekend with friends and family. An Easter egg hunt can be a really lovely way to excite little guest without spending a fortune. You can pick up mini chocolate eggs, baskets, buckets and bunny ears really cheaply at supermarkets and in high street shops.

Pick a venue

Weather depending, Easter egg hunts are perfectly hosted in a garden or local park. Make sure your hunt is contained to a manageable area, as little ones will run around searching for eggs! Mums and Dads can join in the hunt, by writing little clues for them to read to younger ones. Make sure your hunt is not too cryptic!

Enrol some bunny helpers!

To create a stress free and amazing party, your children guests need grown up supervision for safety reasons and to make sure everyone gets a chocolate treat! Adults can help with the party games and party rules, making sure every guest has fun! If you want to give your friends (and yourself!) a relaxing day though, you may want to think about an entertainer.  Wish Upon a Party supply a professional entertainers to lead games and make sure that your party runs as smoothly as possible – from Easter princesses and fairies, to Easter bunnies and other themed characters.

Need a theme?

To theme your Easter party is a lovely way to make the event a little more special! 2015 is the 150th Anniversary of Alice in Wonderland, which would be a fantastic theme for a Easter weekend party!  We also recommend a ‘Nursery Rhyme theme’ or ‘Fairy-tale character theme’ (come as your favourite nursery rhyme character)  – continue this throughout your whole event – decorations, clues for the hunt, fancy dress, balloons and table wear etc.

Decorating your home or venue

Decorating is such fun, and Easter is perfect for pastel colours, bunting, little chicks, pretty bunches of daffodils and DIY decorating eggs! Ask your own little ones to design several Easter eggs on paper, string them together and make gorgeous home-made bunting to hang over your party food table!

Easter Eggs

Food and Treats

Easter is a great time to make gorgeous cupcakes, cornflake cakes decorated with Mini Eggs, sandwiches cut in to the shapes of bunnies and chicks! Get your own little ones involved in the food prep, they will love helping you organise an Easter Feast  – remember the hot cross buns and to dye your own eggs!  We’ve got some fab Easter recipes here.

Going home goodies

Don’t let your guests leave without a bag of Mini Eggs, mini chicks and other gorgeous little treats! A little bunch of daffodils are a lovely going home present for ‘Mummy and Daddy’ guests!

Enjoy and Happy Easter!

Preparing your body for a new year and a new baby! 2018-01-19T13:57:10+00:00

Now that the new year is here, you may be thinking that a new baby could be too?  What better time to prepare your body for pregnancy than with a post Christmas detox, resolutions galore to get fitter and the thought that by next Christmas there could be another present under the tree…

If a new baby is in your plans, we’ve got some great advice from the experts at the Harley Street Fertility Clinic on how to get yourself into tip top condition for conception.

Focusing on your diet

A positive lifestyle tweak to your baby making plan is improving your diet.  There is a lot of good in cutting back on the crisps and unhealthy snacks as Harley Street Fertility Clinic nutritionist Neema Savvides explains;

“Reducing your sugar and salt intake is hugely important as a high level of insulin within the body will affect ovulation and hormone levels. Fat in food is an issue that should also be addressed.  Ignore low fat product alternatives as they can actually be more harmful. This is because they reduce the amount of healthy fats absorbed into the body which are required for the production of hormones, leading to an increase in ovulatory infertility. However, replacing them with full fat foods and drinks can lead to an increase in weight gain, interfere with ovulation and potentially lead to a lower quality hormone being produced.  So it is important to eat in moderation and find the right balance.”

Eating lots of fresh organic foods such leafy vegetables and fruits will help you to absorb some of the antioxidants and nutrients that are beneficial when trying to conceive.  It will also reduce the amount of pesticides being ingested into the system which have been shown to have a negative impact of fertility. Zinc, selenium and vitamins B, C and E should also be worked into the diet.

Nutrient Benefits Amount Food source
Zinc Improves the maturity and health of eggs 30 mg to 50 mg daily Turkey, chicken breasts and nuts
Selenium Important for the process of cell division and essential for sperm formation and testosterone production 200 mcg daily Brazil nuts, fish, eggs and mushrooms
Vitamin B12 Increase sperm count and mobility 1000 mg daily Yoghurt, eggs, fresh salmon and beef
Vitamin C Improve viability of sperm and neutralise the effects of toxins 1000 mg daily Kiwis, oranges, cabbage and asparagus
Vitamin E Improve mobility of sperm and increase overall egg health 200 mg daily Almonds, avocadoes and tomatoes

Take regular exercise

Let’s face it the advantages to regular exercise are endless!  Great reasons to dust off your trainers include; reduced stress levels, regulated hormonal activity, increased strength and a better night’s sleep.  Exercise also plays a fundamental role in maintaining a healthy body weight which is essential for conception. Neema Savvides continues;

“A low or high BMI will prove to be a barrier when trying to conceive. There are certain conditions which will cause obesity and lower fertility levels such as Polycystic Ovary Syndrome. It’s important to address your size as reducing this by just 10% will have huge affect on your chances of becoming pregnant, as well as helping to improve the effectiveness of fertility treatments.”

Cut back on smoking

An ever popular vice to give up for the New Year is to stop smoking. There’s a lot of logic to this because smoking in addition to being culprit to many other health problems, can also increase a woman’s chances of miscarriage and lower a man’s sperm quality. The chemicals that cigarettes contain (more than 7000) spread throughout your body and internal organs, hindering the ovulation process, damaging eggs and reducing sperm motility.

Limit your alcohol intake

When you’re trying to get pregnant it’s best to really limit your alcohol intake – it has also been shown to affect a man’s sperm count.  Even in small amounts, alcohol may harm an unborn baby so it’s particularly important to restrain from alcohol in pregnancy. If you choose to drink alcohol at all during this time, limit the amount to no more than two units of alcohol, once or twice a week.

Have regular intercourse

More than eight in 10 couples will become pregnant within the first year of trying for a baby, if they have sexual intercourse two to three times a week without using contraception. Some people believe that timing sex to be close to ovulation is the best strategy for getting pregnant, but having regular sex every two to three days prevents the pressure and stress that can occur if you try to time it with ovulation. Stress on either partner is known to affect the chances of conceiving.

If you and your partner have been trying for a baby for a year without success, you should visit your GP.

Take a folic acid supplement

You will be advised to take 400 micrograms (400µg) daily of folic acid from the time you stop contraception until week 12 of a successful pregnancy. Folic acid helps to prevent your baby developing serious problems of the brain and nerves such as spina bifida.

So if you’re on the road to parenthood, these simple steps are a great way of getting a head start on the journey.  Of course, you don’t have to be trying to conceive to make these changes – you’ll feel the benefit of most of these changes even if you aren’t trying for a baby!

Top tips for skiing with little ones 2017-12-14T16:49:32+00:00

For those thinking about getting away for some fresh air, sunshine and skiing, all things ‘snow’ will still be firmly on your minds!  Whether you’re a novice or a slalem superstar, skiing with children will bring a whole new dimension to your time on the slopes (and the apres ski), so we’ve got some advice Claire Politt, PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) Level 2 Alpine qualified Ski Instructor with a Level 1 and 2 Children’s Specialist accreditation.

Here she shares her top tips for skiing with young children and staying safe on the slopes….

Learn the basics before you go

If you have access to an indoor or dry ski slope, it’s advisable to learn the basics of skiing before you go on holiday. If you don’t then working on general fitness really helps. Exercises combining core strength and balance are great as they will help you get used to using the muscles needed for skiing.

Buy essential ski safety equipment beforehand and make sure it fits

A well-fitting helmet and goggles that fit with it are essential. Most ski schools now require children to wear helmets during lessons and it’s a good idea for everyone to wear one. Goggles are much better eye protection than sunglasses because they give full coverage and there’s no chance of sunburnt eyelids. Child sized goggles are readily available and should fit comfortably with the child’s helmet with no large gaps and feel snug against the face, not tight.

Research family-friendly resorts and consider which best suit your needs

There are lots of good family-friendly places to learn to ski, and what may work well for one family may not be as good for another. Some things to take into consideration are:

  • Which country do you feel comfortable visiting?
  • Are you flying or driving? For first timers it’s probably better to fly.
  • Transfer time from airport to resort.
  • Proximity to the slopes – with little children, being closer to the slopes is generally better since it’s harder for everyone to carry them and their equipment.
  • Accommodation preferences – chalet style, hotel, B&B, self-catering? Often with smaller children slope-side self-catering or a family friendly hotel makes the most sense since their food preferences can be handled easily.
  • Other activities in resort – swimming pool, skating rink, shops, children’s club, crèche? Most children need a break from skiing for at least one full day during the holiday. Younger children may need one break every day, so other activities are essential.

Opt for the largest number of beginner/green slopes

Generally, anywhere with over 20% of its terrain dedicated to green runs will have a large number of beginner slopes for younger members of the family to practice on. However, many resorts count gentle, narrow cat tracks as green runs which are often not as easy to ski as they appear, so a good look at the resort trail map is essential. Size is also a factor – a large resort will generally have more beginner terrain than a small resort just because of its relative size.

Arrange private lessons

Most children learn quicker and more effectively in private lessons, so starting off with private lessons is always a good idea. The one to one nature of the lesson means they will get more attention and spend less time waiting for their turn. You’ll find that 3 or 4 one hour lessons will progress them just as well as group lessons do.

Make sure little ones stay hydrated

Dehydration is often an issue when children go skiing. This is often characterised by headaches and sleepless nights – not what you want while on holiday. A good measure is to get them to drink twice the amount of water as you think they need, plus an extra glass at the end of the day and before bed. Stopping regularly during the day for water and toilet breaks is also a good idea.

Consider age and ability

I’ve taught children as young as two and a half years. Those that want to ski because they have older siblings that ski tend to be more interested in learning at that age, and any instruction they have really does need to be tailored to fit the child. The two main things I concentrate on are: balance (basically learning to stand up and slide) and having fun. We often do very short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes and then have a break. If your little one is sturdy and athletic, they are more likely to take well to skiing. But remember, the most important thing is that your children have fun.

For more information on family skiing destinations, contact Neilson on 0333 014 3351 or visit www.neilson.co.uk/ski

Making the most of your birthing ball 2017-12-14T16:49:33+00:00

If a birthing ball is a labour aid that you’re considering, it’s a great idea.  Helping you to keep moving through your labour, the rhythmic movement and gentle exercise can help to relax you and to help labour progress.

However, you can use your birthing ball whilst you’re pregnant too to help you exercise and stay in shape in preparation for the big day.  Birthing balls are great for pregnancy, as long as you know what to do with them. In fact, doing just a few birthing ball exercises every day can be enough to alleviate pregnancy back pain, relieve upper body tension and generally leave you feeling a whole lot better.  With this in mind, Dr Joanna Helcke has created a guide for mums-to-be to take you step by step through some of the best gentle birthing ball exercises, with moves including: Child’s Pose, Pelvic Tilts, Pelvic Floor, Resistance Band, Spinal Rotation, ‘Dumb Waiter’, Core Stability and Neck Release.

Here are a few to get you started….

Pelvic Tilts on a Birthing Ball

Pelvic tilts are perfect for relieving tension in the lower back, especially as your bump gets heavier and your pelvis starts to tilt forward. Take a look at the two pictures and then carefully follow my step by step instructions:

  • Sit tall on your birthing ball with good posture: shoulders back and down, neck long, chest lifted and abdominals gently pulled inwards.
  • Tuck/tilt your pelvis under so that you are rounding and lengthening through your lower back (lumbar spine) – see the second picture.
  • Feel the lower abdominals tightening around the bottom of your bump, and a pleasant release of tension in your lower back.
  • Repeat until tension in lower back releases.

Child’s pose using a birthing ball

This is an incredibly relaxing stretch for pregnancy and you will feel the tensions in your back, shoulders, neck and chest wash away as you let yourself sink into this move.

  • Place your hands on the birthing ball in front of you.
  • Sit back onto your heels.
  • Relax through the whole of your spine, from your neck down to your tailbone. Inhale deeply and as you exhale, let yourself sink downwards

Pelvic floor exercises on a birthing ball

Doing your pelvic floor exercises on a birthing ball will encourage you to focus on posture, so why not do at least one of your three daily sets of PFEs on the fitball and get double the benefit?

  • Sit tall on your birthing ball with good posture: shoulders back and down, neck long, chest lifted and abdominals gently pulled inwards.
  • Start off by pulling up at the “back passage”, as if stopping yourself from passing wind in public!
  • Now pull up at the “front passage”, as if stopping yourself from weeing.
  • You can place a hand at the very bottom of your abdominals (just above your pubic bone and at the very bottom of your bump) to see if you can feel your deep abdominals co-contracting with the pelvic floor. If you can feel this area tensing up under your hand, then you know that you are doing your PF pull ups correctly.
  • Try to relax the rest of the body, and remember to BREATHE as you pull up.

Resistance band postural exercise

As you know, posture is greatly affected by your growing bump and this, in turn, can lead to back ache. Resistance work to keep the back and posture strong is a definite must in pregnancy. Try this easy exercise whilst seated on your birthing ball.

  • Sit tall on your birthing ball with good posture: shoulders back and down, neck long, chest lifted and abdominals pulled gently inwards.
  • Now focus on very gently drawing your bump inwards as if giving your baby a hug. Don’t hold your breath and remember to keep breathing.
  • Hold the resistance band above your head with arms wide and chest open (first picture).
  • Now lower your elbows to shoulder height, whilst keeping the hands directly above your elbows and squeezing your shoulder blades together.
  • Take a look at the second picture: the elbows have a 90º angle and the chest is wide open.
  • Lift and lower in a controlled manner for 15+ repetitions: you are working your postural muscles with this exercise.

For more exercises, advice on selecting a birthing ball, posture and more, take a look at the complete guide from Dr Joanna – it’s completely free and really helpful!

Skin care for little ones this winter 2017-12-14T16:49:33+00:00

With winter now well and truly upon us, along with the influx of coughs, colds and general ‘lurgies’, you may be noticing that the cold weather is having an effect on your little one’s skin.

Rashy cheeks, chapped lips and general dryness can all be a reaction to the cold weather and central heating.  So what can you do to care for that supersoft skin and protect it from the elements?

We asked Child’s Farm founder, Joanna Jensen for her advice….

Skin facts

The outer layer of our skin is called the Epidermis, which makes new skin cells and protects everything beneath the surface of the skin from dehydration, stress and infection. The very top part of the epidermis – stratum corneaum – is in turn coated with a fine acid film (acid mantle) that is the first line of defence against viruses and other foreign invaders.
Healthy skin cells are plump because they are full of water and butt up against each other. Fats and oils produced by the skin help trap this water, keeping body temperature constant and keeping good bacteria in and bad bacteria out.

The effects of Winter

The drop in ambient temperature come the winter months brings challenges to skin as we move in and out of cold external wind and air, to very dry heated areas. Actively keeping skin hydrated becomes a necessity to prevent dry, flaky skin, or irritation from eczema. Moisturisation of all skin areas – even forgotten feet – is important to ensure that skin cells remain hydrated and plump keeping irritation out.

Battling the brrrrr!

  1. Apply a moisturizer all over yours and your little ones face, body and hands once or twice a day to keep skin in good order. Apply more to face and hands before going outside; red cheeks don’t only mean it’s cold, but that skin is getting dehydrated.
  2. Skin on hands is thinner than on other parts of your body, so be sure to have a good quality moisturiser in the office, play room, kitchen and loo. Reapply often, especially after getting hands wet. Teach little ones to do this – by teaching them young will mean this will become habit throughout their lives.
  3. For particularly sensitive skin, invest in a dehumidifier for the bedroom, which will add moisture to the air and bring irritation levels down at night, when rooms typically get a lot cooler.
  4. Hot baths are very dehydrating for skin, so keep them warm but not hot, and keep it short! Use a moisturizing bubble bath, and apply a moisturiser to skin within 5 minutes of getting out.
  5. Lips are very prone to dryness, so make sure they are well maintained too. We are big fans of Lanolips, but some eczema prone skin can be irritated by Lanolin, so, as with every new product used, patch test before use to check suitability.
  6. The scalp can be very prone to dryness at this time of year, so use a shampoo which is suitable for sensitive skin.
  7. Hair is also prone to static, so condition well each time that you wash hair, and use a detangling spray – which is the ultimate in conditioners – on static hair and tangles between washes. Minimise blow drying hair as this removes moisture from the scalp. A great alternative is the CuddleTwist by Cuddledry, a hair towel for kids. Great one for popping on when straight out of the bath.
  8. Nails are more prone to cracking and splitting, so keep them short.
  9. When it’s cold or windy, pop an SPF on little ones faces before they go outside.
  10. Be aware that little ones need to drink more water than you think in the cold, although this won’t prevent them from getting dry skin. Try warm herbal teas as an alternative to water.
  11. Give skin and health a natural boost by:
  • Increasing Vitamin C intake which helps boost the production of Collagen.
  • Keep up the intake of Omega -3 Fatty Acids, through walnuts, oily fish, avocado and olive oil.
  • Whole grains are packed with selenium which gives our skin its elasticity.
  • D-Lux do a Vitamin D spray for kids. Vitamin D is principally drawn from sunlight which we miss in the winter months

What products will help?

When selecting products to use on young skin always go for dermatological and pediatrician approved ranges: this means a skin doctor and a children’s doctor have reviewed the products through a clinical review.

Clinical claims – meaning independent clinical trials of the products on subjects prone to the skin conditions made in the claims – allow the products to make claims on their labels to say they are suitable for newborn, sensitive or eczema prone skin.

Avoid mineral oils (petrochemical derivatives), SLSs, parabens or artificial colours in the products. Ingredients should be as natural as possible. Products will always include preservatives; once opened a product will be susceptible to air born bacteria so preservatives ensure that they can’t thrive in to your tube of nappy cream.

If any product, and this includes nappies, cause irritation on babies skin, stop their use immediately.

Do you know your Bonfire Night first aid? 2017-12-14T16:49:33+00:00

As bonfire night approaches the British Red Cross is reminding people of the most useful first aid for any burns related accidents.

Most firework-related injuries happen at family or private parties, and around half of those incidents involve children under the age of seventeen.

Joe Mulligan, the British Red Cross head of first aid education said:

“Most people don’t realize that sparklers reach temperatures five times hotter than cooking oil.  Fireworks are safe if carefully handled but we want to make sure people know how to help if someone does get burned.”

Recent research carried out by the charity shows that old wives tales still abound, with more than one in ten parents convinced that using toothpaste or putting on a burn was the best treatment. With these common misconceptions still circulating, the British Red Cross has issued some bonfire themed advice for any burn-related accidents.

Here are some tips:

  • Scorched, singed and sizzling! That’s what someone’s skin will be doing if they come into contact with the hot and sparkly bit.
  • Put the burned area under cold running water as soon as possible for at least 10 minutes – yes 10 minutes! This l will reduce pain, swelling and the risk of scarring.
  • Any cold liquid will do if you do not have immediate access to water. For example a glass of squash or a cold beer. Then get the injured area under a tap or hose and keep the cold water running for 10 minutes.
  • Refrain from putting any lotions, creams, butter or oils on the burn, they will not help the situation and may cause more pain if they have to be removed later on
  • Keep calm! Especially if helping someone else – panicking will get you nowhere
  • Loosely wrap cling film  or a clean plastic bag around the burn once it is cooled.
    This protects the area from infection and will reduce pain.The burn may need urgent medical treatment. If you’re in any doubt, seek medical advice and always call 999 if a child has been burned.
  • Remember, remember the 5th of November….. is a time to have fun and enjoy yourself.

To ensure that your fireworks night goes off with a bang, brush up on your first aid skills at www.redcross.org.uk/firstaid or download the free British Red Cross first aid app.

Choosing the right pram for you and your baby 2017-12-14T16:49:33+00:00

How to you choose the right pram for you and your baby, there are many different styles of prams and pushchairs on the market, so it’s not surprising that many people find the choice overwhelming. This can be especially true for those expecting their first baby.

Besides appearance, what else should you consider when choosing the right pram for you and your baby?

Lifestyle Requirements

First of all, think about your current lifestyle.

Do you live in a rural area or a city?

Do you have other children or dogs, who regularly like a trip to the beach, the park or the woods?

Do you and your partner like long country walks?

Or are you strictly a city girl?

This will all impact on the right pram for you. Suspension may not be the first thing to come to mind when thinking about your new pram, but it is vital. Some prams and pushchairs are designed for city use on smooth pavement and so may have very little suspension. Whilst other prams and pushchairs are designed specifically for rougher terrains, with more and/or adjustable suspension.

All terrain prams generally have larger wheels, that make light work of little bumps along the way.

What Wheel Type?

The wheel type is not just about the image of the pram. An EVA tyre is maintenance free and puncture resistant – an attractive feature for busy parents. An air tyre however, does require maintenance and you may need to also invest in a bicycle pump, possibly a puncture repair kit.

On the other hand, the benefit can be a more comfortable ride for baby, a smoother push and easier to manoeuvre for parents, and they wear visibly better than an EVA wheel over time.  A new technology recently to hit the market are foam filled tyres. This type of tyre provide the benefit of air tyres, with a maintenance free added bonus, however, they are heavier so add to the overall weight of the pram.

More traditional styles of prams, usually have 4 larger wheels in a fixed position. Most contemporary prams and pushchairs have swivel front wheels making it easier to manoeuvre. Swivel wheels tend to be easier to manoeuvre, especially when the baby gets a bit heavier. However, some people prefer fixed wheels.

Many prams and pushchairs offer the option of either type.

Weight

If you are in and out of the car every day, consider the weight of the pram or pushchair. You should also think about the size of the pram when folded – will it fit into your car boot?  How easy is it to fold the chassis?

If possible, testing out the pram and practising folding before you buy is always recommended.

Travel Systems

The 3-in-1 travel system typically consists of a complete package including a pushchair, carrycot and car seat. These travel systems tend to be more expensive, but they do offer the convenience of being able to use the same base for all three components. However, the majority of pushchairs on the market are capable of using a car seat on the chassis, even if it is not the same brand.

For example, Bugaboo do not make car seats, but their Bugaboo Buffalo comes complete with a pushchair and carrycot, and with the use of quality car seat adapters, a variety of car seats can be used on the chassis.

This is particularly beneficial as if the baby falls asleep in the car seat, then the car seat can be attached to the pushchair chassis rather than having to wake the baby by putting them into the pushchair seat or carrycot. A lot of parents find this a very convenient feature

2-in-1 travel systems are similar but they tend to be more compact. They usually consist of a seat unit that converts into a lie-flat, pram-style unit until baby is ready for the raised seat, and a car seat that can be fixed either straight onto the chassis base or onto the seat unit itself.

It’s a good idea to physically try out the pram, pushchair or travel system before buying to prevent issues prevailing themselves after purchase.

Other Considerations

  • Height: If you or your partner are taller or shorter than average, you might wish to look for a pram with handles that are height-adjustable.
  • Forward or rear facing: Not all prams offer the option of having your baby face you. Research suggests that rear-facing is beneficial for both you and baby, providing a great opportunity for bonding and aiding your baby’s development.
  • Shopping Basket: Will you need a large space to store shopping, or can you manage with less? Check if the shopping basket is going to be sufficient.
  • British Safety Standards: All new prams bought from the UK will comply with the relevant standards. However, if you are considering purchasing a second-hand item, it is important to check that it meets current regulations. Bear in mind that buying a second-hand pram will negate any remaining manufacturer’s warranty.
  • Included accessories: When making your purchase, check what is included in the package price. Footmuffs, raincovers and changing bags can be a big additional expense if you are required to buy them separately.

For more advice, why not check out our ‘Buying for your baby’ section?

Is stress the main cause of smoking after childbirth? 2017-12-14T16:49:33+00:00

Is stress the main cause of smoking after childbirth? For many women, our battle with nicotine begins when we find out that we’re pregnant.  More aware than ever of the hazardous effects not only to us, but also to our unborn child, cutting back or stopping completely is a no-brainer.

So when that little bundle of joy arrives and you’ve kicked the habit, are you likely to light up again, or steer clear for good?

Whilst most of us would like to think that having a baby is reason enough to quit forever, we also recognise that a new baby brings a whole heap of stress and worry, the two things that are most likely to have you back reaching for that pack of ciggies!!

Smoking after childbirth

According to a report from the University of East Anglia, mothers who quit smoking in pregnancy are more likely to light-up again after their baby is born if they feel stressed.

Researchers studied interviews with more than 1,000 new mothers and found that the stress of caring for a newborn, sleepless nights, social pressure, and the idea that they no longer need to protect the baby – all contribute to relapse.

The study also found that women who felt they were being supported by a partner were less likely to start smoking again.

Lead researcher Dr Caitlin Notley, from UEA’s Norwich Medical School, said: “More women quit smoking during pregnancy than at any other time – but as many as 90 per cent start again within a year of their baby being born. This is particularly true among women in lower socioeconomic groups.

“We wanted to understand why this happens, and identify ways of preventing it. This is important both for the health of the mother, as well as to stop children being exposed to second hand smoke, and because young people are more likely to start smoking if they grow up with smoking in the family.

“We found that many women see smoking as a way a coping with stress. They also believe that physiological changes influence cigarette cravings, and that they no longer need to protect the baby from smoking’s harmful effects.”

The study sought to find out what factors influence women to start smoking again after childbirth, as well as what things make it easier or more difficult to stay smoke free.

Dr Notley said: “One of the most striking things that we found is that women’s beliefs about smoking are a major barrier to remaining smoke free. Many felt that smoking after the birth of their child was acceptable provided they protected their babies from second-hand smoke. Their focus is, admirably, on the health of the baby, but they often do not think about the long term health consequences for themselves as mothers.

“We also found that women who saw smoking as a way of coping with stress were more likely to relapse. And that feeling low, lonely, tired, and coping with things like persistent crying were also triggers.

“Women reported that cravings for nicotine, which had lessened or stopped during pregnancy, returned,” she added.

“In many women, the motivation to stop smoking was linked to their pregnancy – but they didn’t see it as stopping for good and adopting a life without smoking. Relapse seemed almost inevitable where women admitted that they didn’t quit for themselves.

“Social influences also play a part – particularly because social interaction is especially valued after childbirth. Some women reported that their friends expected a return to smoking which influenced them to start again.

“We particularly noted that it was extremely difficult for women to remain smoke free when their partners smoked.”

Supportive partners were cited as key to remaining smoke free, along with personal praise from health professionals.

Dr Notley said: “The majority of women who had successfully remained smoke free said that the support of their partner was a strong factor. Partners who gave up smoking, or altered their own smoking behaviours, were a particularly good influence. And those who helped ease the stress of childcare were also praised by women who had resisted the urge to light up.”

The research team also found that women’s concept of their own identity was an important factor – with many women seeing smoking as a way of rekindling a sense of themselves as individuals.

“In order for women to continue their lives smoke free after pregnancy, we need to see a cultural shift – where women feel more motivated to remain abstinent, and where they feel more comfortable with the change of identity that motherhood brings. Support from partners is vital, but support from health professionals can be very important as well.”

‘Postpartum Smoking Relapse – a thematic synthesis of qualitative studies’ was published in the journal Addiction on September 

Sleep tight: safe sleeping for your little one 2017-12-14T16:49:36+00:00

There’s no doubt that once your little one has arrived there’s one subject that will dominate your conversation and that’s sleep.  How much you’re getting, how much you’re partner’s getting and how much your little treasure is getting too!  Your concerns won’t only be about how much your baby sleeps, but how to help them settle at bedtime, after feeds and what is the safest way for them to sleep?  Moses basket, cot, co-sleeping, on their front or on their backs…there’s a lot to think about!  If you’re struggling to decide what’s best for your family, the experts at NCT have looked at safety and sleep and have shared their thoughts with us…

Where babies sleep

There are a variety of locations for babies to sleep including cots, Moses baskets, bedside and travel cots, slings, in arms and their parents’ bed.  Young babies often fall asleep in a car seat or buggy, but these have downsides for longer sleeps as babies are constricted and in danger of overheating if dressed for the outdoors but then moved indoors.

Most young babies don’t just sleep in one place; it varies with the time of day, and what their parents or carers are doing.

Where babies sleep is also a cultural issue; for some families it is unthinkable that the baby would not stay with the parents all the time and sleep with them in the same bed, as that is the norm within their community.

For others, the norm is for babies to be in a cot, and they feel that they could not relax and sleep well with the baby in their bed.

For babies up to six months, it’s recommended that parents:

  • Keep the baby in the same room as an adult minding them during the day as well as at night
  • Put babies to sleep on their backs
  • Take steps to ensure that babies cannot wriggle down under covers and have their head covered by the bedding
  • Do not smoke anywhere near the baby
  • Ensure that cots conform to safety standards so that babies cannot become trapped between the bars and be free from bumpers and pillows
  • Parents and carers should also try to guard against falling asleep on a sofa with the baby as the risk of accident is greater

Co-sleeping

We know that many parents sleep in the same bed as their baby at some point in the first six months or so. NCT research

[i] found that:

  • Approximately a quarter of babies (26%) were sleeping in a cot in their parents’ room
  • Around one in six (17%) started the night in a cot and then came into their parents’ bed during the night
  • 10% were regularly sleeping in their parents’ bed throughout the night and 24% of babies were regularly sleeping in the parents’ bed at some point during the night

Therefore it’s important to make parents aware of guidance for safe bed-sharing.

The Department of Health specifically advises that bed-sharing should be avoided if one or both parents:

  • Is a smoker
  • Has consumed alcohol
  • Has taken any drugs, prescription or otherwise, that affect perception, cause drowsiness or affect depth of sleep
  • Is excessively tired to the extent that this might affect being able to respond to the baby

The risks associated with co-sleeping are also increased if your baby:

  • Was born premature (37 weeks or less)
  • Had a low birth weight (less than 2.5kg or 5.5lb)
  • Has a fever or any signs of illness

In order to reduce the chance of accidents if you do decide to co-sleep with your baby, it is important to:

  • Make sure your baby can’t fall out of bed
  • Keep your baby cool by using sheets and blankets rather than a duvet
  • Always put your baby to sleep on their back rather than their front or side
  • Don’t use a pillow – babies don’t need a pillow until they are one year old
  • Never risk falling asleep with your baby on the sofa or in an armchair

Sleep strategies

Newborn babyNCT research revealed that parents used a number of strategies to settle their baby with making the room dark and a regular routine of activities being the most common. Most parents also considered bathing and feeding their baby was part of their routine for settling their baby at bedtime. Few parents said that they regularly left their baby to cry themselves to sleep, just 4%. Few also resorted to taking them for a car ride to help them sleep at night.

You could try one or more of the following to encourage your baby to sleep:

  • Place them sleepy, but awake, in their cot at bedtime with a favourite toy. This has been shown in research studies to increase the proportion of babies who go to sleep without a parent being present and the length of time babies sleep at night
  • Introduce a regular bedtime routine, such as a bath, or reading a book together. This has also been found to assist settling and sleep
  • Turn down the light and minimise talking, playing and disturbance when your baby wakes during the night
  • With young babies under a year, some people find that additional feeds during the evening, or semi-waking their baby for a feed between 10pm and midnight, can help them sleep for longer stretches at night. This is sometimes called ‘dream feeding’. This approach can be used for both breastfed and formula-fed babies. However the research evidence on the effectiveness of this approach is mixed
  • Try to encourage continuity in your baby’s sleep by trying to get them to rest in the same place the majority of the time

More information for parents about safe sleeping is available here: www.nct.org.uk/parenting/your-babys-sleep

 


[i] Sleep results from ‘First 1,000 Days’ research project, conducted by NCT and supported by Pampers. Experiences of first-time parents at 6-9 months: findings from the first questionnaire & focus group.

During 2013-2014, NCT’s Research and Evaluation Department conducted a mixed-methods longitudinal research study of first-time mothers’ and fathers’ experiences and attitudes during the first two years following the birth of their baby. To understand more about life as a new first-time parent, NCT invited men and women to complete online questionnaires at two time-points: one during their baby’s first year (6-9 months), the other one year later (18-21 months), following eight focus groups to inform the survey design. In total, 869 first-time mothers and 296 first-time fathers responded in full to the first questionnaire when their babies were on average eight months old.