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Baby and Me

Clonakilty, West Cork

Baby and Me


A Support Service for Parents to be

My Blog


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Preparing for Pregnancy

Posted on July 27, 2014 at 2:36 AM Comments comments (55)

Some  pregnancies  are unplanned and people react and start to worry that maybe they are living a lifestyle which is not quite suitable for pregnancy like drinking alchohol or maybe smoking or eating the wrong diet or that they may cause harm to their baby without intention.

If we approached planning a pregnancy as so particular as buying a new car or house then we would invest alot of time, energy and research in the preparation. The ideal would be the longer the preparation the better but at least a minimum of three months preparation would be advisable. It should be a holistic approach for those taking part in this planning, ensuring the optimal outcome for a successful pregnancy. This would target not just the physical aspects but the psychological and emotional side of having a baby.

The physical preparation for parents to be would be a health wellbeing check up with your GP looking at general health, weight, blood pressure, cervical smear tests, rubella status, any underlying health issues that may affect fertility, routine blood tests to check iron levels, thyroid levels, liver function tests for example or if any predisposing medical conditions a referral to a  specialist now you are considering pregnancy.

Taking Folic Acid  at least 12 weeks before conception and up to 12 weeks of pregnancy, to decrease the risk of neural tube defects such as spina bifida. This can be taken by tablet or through eating plenty of  dark green vegetables such as broccoli or spinach. Eating a good balanced diet, good quality fats, proteins, including eggs and vegetables doing an audit of your diet to ensure you nourish yourself ready to nourish a growing fetus. An  audit of  your alchohol intake, if not being totally abstinent then a decrease would be advisable, or drinking iron enriched alchohol such as Stout intead, a change in your approach to lifestyle where drink is used socially. A decrease in caffeine such as in coffee, tea or soft drinks or avoiding drinking caffeine before bedtime.

 A change in approach or attitude to smoking to give up ideally or  if unable to decrease amount of cigarettes smoked, to seek support  and professional advice in giving up smoking. If  habitual  or social drugs are taken, seek professional help and support, from GP or support groups.

Review of exercise regime from  reducing extreme high intensity sports/gym work to starting a gentle and enjoyable exercise regime such as swimming or walking. Check in with your body.

Think and write down your thoughts and feelings about becoming pregnant, being pregnant, the birth and becoming a parent, all the aspects and what you feel you may need to do to deal with any issues, fears or anxieties and discuss them with your partner or if not with a friend, family member or professional if required. Get a good supportive network of people around you, join groups that you feel are beneficial to you at this time.

Think  and visualise yourself being pregnant, holding your baby and find ways to relax and  to be calm, find ways that feel right for you, your partner and your baby.

Think about yourself and nourish yourself not just physically but emotionally as well so you are able to nourish your baby!

Listening to your baby in utero and outside utero

Posted on June 26, 2014 at 2:28 AM Comments comments (7)

Seek first to understand, then to be understood’- Stephen & Cory

This statement is all about listening to each other effectively so needs are met on either side. This can be established between parent and child even before the child has been born, and for either parent even if it is the mother who is carrying the baby in utero for nine months, the role of the father is as important in listening to the baby’s needs as well as the mother.

Some people may seem to be more tuned into their unborn baby and its not because they are any different to anyone else but have become more open and conscious to listening to their child both in the physical and non physical sense. Some mothers who are not relaxed and lead a busy life sometimes need reassurance that they may not have felt their baby kick over a period of time and as a Midwife I would explain to them to rest and relax quietly, drink some cold water and be come aware of their baby’s movements and obviously seek further advice if that is not the case. When all is fine and the baby has been felt, calmness and confidence is restored.

Mothers can become more conscious of their needs and their baby’s needs by learning to breathe, find ways to relax that they are comfortable with, be calm within themselves and eventually listen to their baby on a deeper level as a baby cannot be heard verbally. Doing this during pregnancy will help them approach labour with ease, calmness and more confidence and help achieve the  birth they both wish for. Once the baby is born, the baby communicates through crying which is verbal communication and non verbals by facial expressions, body movements, a variety of reasons why a baby may cry.
If Mothers and Fathers listen and are aware of their baby cue’s and behaviour they can respond to their baby' s needs accordingly.
Happy calm parents = Happy calm baby!

Touch and the benefits of Infant Massage

Posted on June 22, 2014 at 3:27 PM Comments comments (6)
“Being touched and caressed, being massaged, is food for the infant: food as necessary as minerals, vitamins and proteins” – Dr Frederick Leboyer
Touch is the first sense that a baby develops in utero and it is used instinctively from when they are born into the world. It is part of them and it is the best way for them to learn about themselves, the world and their place in it, through the messages they receive through their skin. It can range from a natural reflex like rooting for their fist or feeling and smelling for their food source (for example the nipple of a breast or teat of a bottle) to grabbing whatever they can reach out to.

 For the child who has yet to develop any form of communication, the sense of touch becomes a crucial means of communication and bonding with its carers. Touch helps build the bonds of trust and love and forms the emotional development of the child.
The infant-mother attachment, in most cases, is an infant’s first social experience and is the beginning of social and emotional development. Several parts of the massage experience are believed to help facilitate attachment and bonding. Some of these components include smell, skin to skin contact, smiling and soothing sounds as well as eye contact. Many parents find that massage helps them feel closer to their children. Parents generally feel that massage is a positive experience with their child even when other caring experiences may have been less positive.
Positive physiological effects of massage that have been documented include the improvement of venous and lymphatic circulation, normalising of the gastro –intestinal function, enhancement of body awareness, relaxation in an irritable child, as well as arousal in a lethargic child. Also, baby massage can have an effect on preterm/low birth weight babies to gain weight more rapidly. It can help to stimulate muscle tone and promote relaxation of tense muscles. It can increase sleep patterns as the baby learns to relax and calm themselves. It can also help with the colicky infant, constipation and other digestive problems.
Infant Massage also promotes an increase in Prolactin/Oxytocin production, ‘The Love Hormone,’ which furthers motherly instincts and wellbeing. This creates a feel good factor that enhances the bonding process, which can help reduce post natal depression and help mothers form a good relationship with their child for the future. Infant Massage can be done by any carer, be it mother, father, grandparent or foster carer, ensuring the best positive outcome for that infant.

The Fourth Trimester

Posted on June 21, 2014 at 3:41 PM Comments comments (100)
The idea of a fourth trimester is being discussed a lot more in the last few years with parents becoming more informed about pregnancy, birth and parenting. Therefore, the birth professionals are starting to realise that the time period from birth to three months is so important for both baby and mother, as well as for fathers as they experience this journey together.

Most people are aware of the three trimesters of pregnancy, where baby grows and develops from a fetus to a healthy term infant born somewhere between 37 weeks and 42 weeks gestation period.

A baby born before 37 weeks is classed as preterm and will require more care and support initially to maintain stability with their growth and health development and to be able to cope with their new environment they find themselves.

‘But even healthy full term babies require additional three months to ‘wake up’ and become active partners in the relationship’ (Dr Harvey Karp – Baby Bliss 2002).

While the baby remains ‘in utero’, they are safe, secure, protected, fed and nurtured in their cocoon of the mother’s womb, then at the end of the third trimester they are ‘evicted’ and they suddenly find themselves in an unfamiliar environment of bright lights, new noises, new smells and a place which seems alien to them.

How are they and you going to cope?

All your baby wants is YOU.

Your baby wants to feel happy and safe and secure as it was in your uterus for the last nine months. The first three months should be an extension of this in the outside world.

From the moment of birth, your baby will recognise your voice, their father’s voice and all those familiar sounds that they heard from inside the womb, so whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed, having skin to skin contact as soon as possible after birth would be the ideal, prior to anything else such as baths or showers.

Your baby can be placed on your chest or tummy, so that time can be given for you both of you to meet and to get to know each other. The benefit of this reduces stress levels for both you and your baby and allows the release of relaxing hormones such as oxytocin and serotonin. Also being close to the mother’s heartbeat is reminiscent for the baby, of the blood flowing through the umbilical cord and placenta which once connected your baby to you. Your baby will be able to calm down through self regulation and through mimicking the breath sounds of their mother or father.

This early introduction of Touch after birth is important and the benefits can be experienced further with Baby Massage. Baby Massage can improve sleep patterns and encourages bonding which helps with reducing the risk of postnatal depression, relief with colic or wind which can be associated with babies having to cope with their new environment, for some babies more than others.

The key factor seem to be ‘being calm’ both for baby and parent. For parents having a baby is a life event unlike any other, probably with the biggest adjustment and change and impact on lifestyle, attitude, values, expectations and relationships. The first three months is challenging for all concerned both physically, physiologically and emotionally as parents and baby become one family unit.

So the main task within the first four months would be to nurture your baby’s confidence in you and the world.