Category Archives: Support for parents

Baby Circle

Baby brain

‘Baby brain’ is what we say mothers get when they are tired, forgetful can’t cope with the fast pace of society. It’s seen as a negative thing, perhaps because we live in a society where the values of science, maths and logic are valued above everything else. We can choose to see this period of our lives where we are experiencing such a huge change in a positive way too, you are gaining so many new aspects to your personal development.

What is baby brain?

The oxytocin released when you have a child changes the structure and chemistry of your brain. You are physically different. Whilst many of the physical changes can be seen, there are also these chemical changes in the brain.

Through this surge in oxytocin mothers in their postpartum period have heightened senses. They are better at reading non-verbal signs and show better empathy – all very important for new mums to help connect with and protect their newborn.

Blame it on the baby brain

Don’t allow the cultural messages telling you ‘baby brain’ is a bad thing make you feel you’ve lost something, you have gained a great deal too!

Lots of mothers find after having a baby they have changed priorities; things that were important before no longer seem so essential. This can be very disorientating, and some mums feel a bit lost, and they don’t know who they are anymore. Your brain is actually different which can be disorientating. This is on top of having to learn new skills to care for your baby.

Developing as a mother

As a mother, you have to embrace a whole new set of strengths, and perhaps let go of some aspects of yourself that you have always valued. It doesn’t mean you can’t go back to that high powered job, or enjoy scientific work, but just accepting some new strengths into yourself, and valuing this time in your life.

How to support yourself as a mother

With all this going on you need to find a way to look after yourself so you can look after your baby.

When you have a time of depletion and feel you need some nurturing, a simple checklist can become your reminder, whether it’s a cuppa with a friend, a massage or reading a book. Take minute now to write down some nurturing things, places, or people that help you.  It’s important to keep yourself filled up. Have a think about what really makes you tick, what you could not do without, what builds you up and helps you feel whole again. 

If you’d like a holistic treatment to support yourself contact us for an appointment with Lindsay or Jane. email info@the-gentle-touch.com or via the contact page

 

Is your child too clean? The role of bacteria in children’s gut health

Tips on how to influence and support your children’s gut health by our registered nutritional therapist Anna. Anna works with families including children to identify the optimal diet for individual health. 

Are you always using antibacterial handwash, sanitising your children’s hands at the park or bleaching away the bacteria in your kitchen? You might be thinking it’s the only way to fight off infections and keep your children safe.

Hygiene hypothesis

However, more studies are now linking the way we clean ourselves (sometimes a little obsessively) and the rise in childhood conditions such as asthma, eczema, food allergies and hay fever. The ‘hygiene hypothesis’ means our children are growing up in an overly sanitised world today and they are too clean. Without small challenges to the immune system during early childhood, the immune system doesn’t learn to respond to antigens. This means it may go into overdrive when it meets gluten, peanuts or pollen.

The best way to help your child’s immune system is to let them get a bit more dirty. This means playing in the dirt, cuddling the dog, exploring the garden. It will help if you allow these small challenges to the immune system to be part of their life.

When we use antibacterial handwash or bleach our kitchen surfaces we kill off ALL the bacteria, good and bad. 95% of the world’s bacteria are not harmful to us. Removing all the bugs leaves room for the most pathogenic (bad) bugs to quickly take hold. We only need to reduce bacteria in our cleaning, not remove it all completely. Washing up with hot soapy water is sufficient. 

When you definitely DO need the anti-bacterial support

If you’re dealing with a sickness bug, or poo (child’s or animals) then it is definitely worth ensuring your hands are super clean.  Hand sanitiser, hot washing cycle in the machine and anti-bacterial spray are all useful in this instance.

Diversity in gut bacteria is important

The diversity of bugs in our gut is what keeps us healthy. We need lots of different types of bacteria, fungi, viruses and parasites to keep us healthy and our immune system strong. Diversity of microbes comes from eating a varied diet, rich in fibre, lots of vegetables and plenty of time in nature playing freely.

How to get help for your family

If you or your children have allergies, asthma or eczema do get in touch to see how Anna could support your family through nutritional therapy. Addressing the diet and any underlying gut issues can have huge impact on these common conditions. Anna offers a free 15 minute consultation – email to book a slot to speak to her – info@the-gentle-touch.com 

Fevers: How to manage a child’s high temperature

With cold and flu season here, the next time you or your children are poorly, you may be reaching for the paracetamol to reduce their fever. It’s natural to worry about your child’s high temperature and want to reduce their symptoms.

But research shows that we actually need to thank our fever for helping fight off infection. That’s because some studies have shown elevated body temperature helps certain types of white blood cells, lymphocytes, to work better. This supports our immune system to fight off the bugs that make us ill.

What causes a high temperature

Fevers are normally caused by a mild viral infection. Of course sometimes a fever reflects a dangerous infection that needs medical assessment from a health professional, but if the raise in temperature is minor you can support your child’s immune system with rest and plenty of hydration. Offer lots of breastmilk if they are breastfed.

Fevers actually help protect us.

One study showed that children who had a fever of 38.3°C before they were 12 months old were less likely to demonstrate have allergies at age 6 to 7 years. In the acute phase of an infection raising the body temperature stops the bad bugs from multiplying which may reduce the length and severity of common colds and flu.

How to help a baby with a high temperature

If you decide not to treat a fever in your little one, then do keep track of the temperature through their illness. Take their temperature regularly and record it. You can help them feel better with a plenty of cool drinks and lots of cuddles and not keeping them too hot.

When to look for help (NHS advice):

  • Check your child for signs of dehydration – these can include a dry mouth, no tears, sunken eyes and, in babies, fewer wet nappies
  • your baby is under three months old and they have a temperature of 38C (101F) or higher
  • your baby is three to six months old and has a temperature of 39C (102F) or higher
  • your child develops a red rash that doesn’t fade when a glass is rolled over it
  • your child has a fit (convulsion)
  • they are crying constantly and you can’t console or distract them, or the cry doesn’t sound like their normal cry
  • has a high-pitched or unusual sound when crying
  • the fever lasts for more than five days
  • your child’s health is getting worse
  • you have any concerns about looking after your child at home

Stay well this winter!

 

Baby Sleeping in mothers arms

Did you know cuddling your baby can help you with stress reduction?

We hear a lot about the importance of skin to skin around the time of birth, and this is because the cuddling helps to release oxytocin for baby and mum.

Skin to skin – Benefit to baby

There are numerous benefits for the baby, and evidence has been shown from cases in NICU where babies show better temperature regulation, better breathing patterns, less stress, more effective glucose regulation and many more. 

Skin to skin – Benefits for Mum

It’s not just all for the baby though, there are also benefits for you as a mum post birth. When you cuddle your baby skin to skin your brain releases beta-endorphin. Beta-endorphin is a pain reducing hormone that helps you respond to your baby. This hormone also reinforces the pleasure in the cuddles, and increases feelings of calmness. It can also reduce stress levels in mums 

If you need any more excuses for another cuddle with your newborn there they are. Some studies have shown even smelling that gorgeous newborn smell is enough to evoke positive feelings. We all love that baby smell, and it’s been shown even a whiff of your little baby can send out reward message from the part of the brain responsible for pleasure. 

So next time you feel awash with love when you’re cuddling you know you’re not imagining it, your body is tuned in to your baby on a chemical level.

Baby Massage

If you’d like to spend more time with your baby learning how to soothe and comfort them try our Baby Massage classes. The release of oxytocin during the skin to skin strokes can help both you and your baby relax. Look at our Booking page for details of classes near you, or we can arrange a private class. Our classes are a great way to meet new people in your area too, it’s friendly and welcoming. Many parents enjoy sharing tips and stories on parenting to help get to know each other. 

Tongue Tie – Medically known as Ankyloglossia

What is a tongue tie?

Tongue tie is where the strip of skin, frenulum, between the underside of the tongue and the floor of their mouth is shorter than usual anchoring it down and restricting movement.

If your baby has a tongue tie it will hopefully be picked up by your health professional at birth during their routine check.  However, lots aren’t and sometimes it is only noticed some weeks later, and a few weeks for a newborn is obviously a significant amount of time.

Does it cause any problems for baby?

Sometimes a tongue tie doesn’t cause any problems and if this is the case, then no treatment is needed at all.

However, it can interfere with feeding your baby.  Especially breastfeeding as commonly babies can’t open their mouths wide enough to latch on securely to withdraw milk from your breast.  To have a successful and comfortable feed, babies need to be able to take some breast tissue into their mouths and not just the nipple.

If they aren’t latched correctly you may hear a clicking or sucking noise as their mouths slip off.  This might also mean they take in more air when feeding so adding to a gassy tummy too.

Although it’s common for babies to feed often, sometimes every hour, if this is constant and combined with an unsettled and unsatisfied baby consistently after every feed, it is worth checking their tongue for a tie.

How can I check if my baby has a tongue tie?

Always see your health professional as soon as you have any worries about tongue tie.  It is quick to diagnose and worth getting it looked at because it can really impact whether you and your baby are successful at breastfeeding due to the difficulties it can cause.

You can also have a look at your baby’s mouth yourself, some tongue ties are much more obvious than others.  An obvious thing to look for is the actual string of tissue, like a little thread from tongue to floor of mouth. 

It is also worth putting your clean fingers in their mouth and sliding from one side to another, underneath their tongue.  Sometimes you can’t always see an obvious frenulum but you may be able to feel the tightness there.  The best position for your baby to be in to do this check is lying down with their head on your lap, facing upwards, feet pointing away from you.

What can be done if my baby has a tongue tie?

A trained medical professional can snip the frenulum freeing up any tension it is causing and allowing the mouth to gain full range of movement.  A frenotomy is a quick procedure with a very good success rate.  You may need to spend some time afterwards relearning your latch again as it may feel very different to both you and your baby.

 

Are you worried you don’t have enough breastmilk?

Many mums worry at some point that they don’t have enough breastmilk for their baby. You can’t measure the amount of milk your baby is receiving so it can leave you feeling insecure and wondering.

There are a few myths surrounding this subject, so let us look at these first. The following are NOT indicators that you are producing too little milk;

  1. The feeling of ‘let down’ is gone.  Not everyone feels a strong let down sensation; it doesn’t mean the milk isn’t there.  Some mothers say let down can feel like pins & needles, others say it’s painful, or some experience nothing at all.
  2. If / when you pump milk you get very little.  Babies are much more efficient than a pump so don’t rely on measuring the pumped milk as a guide to how much you produce.
  3. Your breasts feel soft/ softer than they did.  Your breasts will adjust the supply to your baby’s needs, the feel of your breasts does not determine the amount of milk.
  4. Leaky boobs have stopped leaking.  This can happen, as above, once your breasts have adjusted to the demand of your baby’s needs.
  5. Your baby suddenly wants feeding more frequently or seems hungry after feeding.  This can be common especially during a growth spurt, they want more milk because they are growing, fast.
  6. Their dirty nappies are less frequent.  This can sometimes happen to breastfed babies, it can mean that there is just no waste.  The breastmilk is uniquely made for the growth stage they are at so they may just be using every ounce of it up for their growing. 

What are the indicators you may have low breastmilk?

If your baby is not producing wet nappies and not gaining weight then it would be advisable to discuss this with your GP or Health Visitor.

How can you increase your breastmilk naturally?

Diet

The best way to improve your milk flow is to ensure you have a nutrient dense diet including lots of healthy fats, drink lots of water and rest as much as you can. These traditional herbs and foods are thought to stimulate lactation and are used in cultures throughout the world:

  • Fennel seeds or fenugreek seeds soaked in boiling water to make a tea. You can also add these herbs to cooking sauces like curry.
  • Snack on nuts and seeds for protein and healthy fats.
  • Sesame seeds / tahini.
  • Add warming foods like soups and stews to your diet. Well cooked meat or pulses with root vegetables will nourish you and help milk production.
  • Porridge oats with added seeds and coconut oil.
  • Dark green leafy vegetables – spinach, kale, cavolonero.
  • Drinking lots of water through the day

Offer your breast often to your baby

Breastfeeding works by a supply and demand method.  The more your baby suckles at your breast the more milk your breasts will produce.  If you are worried about lack of milk then offer your breasts more often to give your body the signal to keep producing more milk for your baby.

Pump

Using a breastpump can be helpful to increase your milk.  The stimulation will trigger more milk to be produced and ejected. This can be done directly after you breastfeed or a regular intervals inbetween.  Speak to a lactation consultant to see what works best for your situation.

Skin to skin

Hormones have a huge part to play in breastfeeding. Holding your naked baby against your bare skin is relaxing for both of you and it can help stimulate helpful hormones.  Prolactin helps your body produce milk and as you relax and enjoy holding your baby close the hormone oxytocin will help milk be released.

Relax

Stress isn’t good for anyone and when those niggles of doubt set in that you aren’t producing enough milk it can make you feel stressed.  Cortisol, our stress hormone, doesn’t affect the amount of milk produced but it can impact the initial let down.  So, if you find breastfeeding stressful and the let down isn’t triggered your baby may then fuss at the breast which in turn may make you feel more stressed. This negative feedback loop is common can impact on successful breastfeeding.

Oxytocin is responsible for inducing feelings of calm and supports bonding, amongst other things.  The hormone is released when the nipples are stimulated by baby suckling, this induces the let down reflex and milk is ejected. 

Check your latch

If you’re worrying about low supply do get your feeding position checked by a lactation expert. Your baby may be having problems with the latch and struggling to get milk out of the breast. Even the smallest adjustment can help. Lactation consultants can also check for tongue tie which may interfere with your baby’s latch.

So try whatever you can to feel relaxed. Snuggle in a comfortable position and hold your baby close. You are both learning how to breastfeed together so be kind to yourself, try to relax and breathe.

HOW TO KEEP YOUR FAMILY COOL AND SAFE IN THE SUN

Our A-Z guide to staying cool

When it’s hot your little one can be very grumpy, not understanding why it’s so warm. You can also be worry that your baby will overheat. Read our top tips for keeping everyone cool.   

A – APPLES or any fruit actually.  You can make it fun for older babies and children by making fruit salad or ­­fruit kebab stick.  Young babies might enjoy sucking on cooled orange segments.

B – BATH. Give babies and children a cool bath before bed to bring that body temperature down.  Keeping activities slow and calming like reading, puzzles etc. No running/jumping games that my children always want to play.

C – CURTAINS. Keep them closed on the sunny side to help stop the heat building up.

D – DRINK lots of water.  Aim for 2 litres for adults.  Formula fed babies can be given small amounts of cooled boiled water.   Offer breastfed babies extra feeds, the milk will naturally change consistency to be more thirst quenching, clever hey.

E – EAT cooling foods. In Chinese and Ayervedic medicine foods are seen to have cooling or warming properties. These foods help our bodies cool down from the inside so include cucumber, lemons, apple, melons, papaya, pineapple, butternut squash, radish juice, and courgette.

F – FLANNEL.  Especially lovely for pregnant women, soak a cloth in cold water then apply to your pulse points to keep you cool, back of your neck and on your wrists.  Keep re-wetting it in cold water.

G – GET YOUSELF a spray bottle, fill it with water and carry it with you, perfect for instant cool and refresh for all the family if out and about.

H – HATCH.  If you have a loft hatch leave it open, as hot air rises it might help the hot air escape from your home.

I – ICE. Place a bottle of water in the freezer, at bedtime put the frozen bottle in front of a fan, it helps cool the air, a bowl of ice works too. Ice really is a versatile and perfect accompaniment for hot weather, add to drinks, suck on cubes (although be careful a chocking with younger ones) or add to a cold foot bath.

J – SEE Y.

K – KEEP APPLYING the SUN CREAM.  Use a suncream that doesn’t have lots of chemicals on their tender skin, you can find a number of brands like Green People. Babies under 6 months shouldn’t be exposed to direct sunlight.

L – LOLLIES.  Make your own.  You can puree your own fruit and veg combinations for a delicious cool healthy treat.  Water lollies are good for instant cool down for little ones.

M – MUSLINS have a multitude of uses.  Dampen one with cool water and put over your baby’s body whilst out and about.  Also great when cuddling or feeding baby to have a damp muslin between you both to keep the body temperatures down.

N – NATURAL FIBRES.  Keep to cotton and other natural material as they let the skin breathe. Keep away from nylon, polyester and other man made sweat inducing fabrics. This is for clothes, bedding, blankets and buggy seat liners.

O – see Y

P – PADDLING POOL.  Fun for all the family.  Never leave babies and children unattended.  If you don’t want to submerge yourself in a pool just sit with your feet in, it will help cool your whole body, wonderful if you are pregnant.

Q – Quercetin. Foods rich in quercetin help to fight off hay fever symptoms, something that can affect your enjoyment of being outdoors. Eat apples, red grapes, red onions, dark cherries, tomatoes and broccoli.

R – REST.  Don’t over exert yourself when it’s hot.   Your body will have to work hard to keep yourself cool so if you can do nothing. Do nothing. (Except looking after the kids, and some may argue that is a lot of exertion)

S – SHEEPSKIN.  This might sound counter intuitive but laying your baby on sheepskin can help keep them cool.   Google it, it’s true.

T – THERMOMETER.  It is recommended that babies and children will be most comfortable sleeping between 16C (61F) and 20C (68F).  Obviously the temperature can’t always be adjusted when it’s super hot but it’s useful to know the recommend temps.  Change rooms if you have to, for example my son is in my bed tonight as he has a 30c+ loft room, husband is on the sofa!  Remember you may need to adjust your baby’s clothing, perhaps they are in a nappy when put to bed but may need another layer later as the sun goes down.

U – UMBRELLA.  Always use a parasol/ sun umbrella or loose muslin (always with airflow) when your baby is in a buggy to keep them out of the sun.  It is not advised to peg blankets over the buggy as it can increase the temperature inside the buggy to dangerous levels.

V – VEHICLE.  Never ever leave a baby or child in a car unattended in the hot weather. There have been a number of heartbreaking fatal stories in the news.  Yes it can be a time consuming and tricky task getting one or more hot and tantruming children out of the car to nip to a shop, but the consequences are just too awful.

W – WHEN TO WORRY.  If you are concerned your baby or child is dehydrated then please take them or phone doctor immediately.   Some of the signs of dehydration from NHS are;

  • Drowsy
  • Breathe fast
  • Have few or no tears when they cry
  • Have a soft spot on their head that sinks inwards (sunken fontanelle)
  • Have a dry mouth
  • Have dark yellow pee or have no/ few  wet nappies.
  • Have cold and blotchy-looking hands and feet

X – EXCUSE YOURSELF from invitations if you have to that involves long journeys, especially in the car.  It is not a place a baby or child wants to be on a hot day.  It isn’t rude or lazy, your friends and family will understand.

Y – We have put J, O and Y together because let’s face it us Brits take a while to get used to a heatwave but it is also a lot of fun.  Have some JOY too with the sun, it doesn’t come out often!

Z –  Zzzzzz  If you aren’t sleeping well at night then try and nap as much as possible during the day to keep energy levels up.

Mother’s Day Offer

We have teamed up with Postnatal Angel to offer you practical, nurturing care for mum and baby to restore and revive. All in the comfort of your own home!

  • One hour holistic treatment, choose from holistic massage, indian head massage, rejuvenating facial to relax and soothe.
  • Three hours Postnatal Angel support, including nutritious Angel Lunch, homemade energy snacks, and unique mother-to-mother assistance.

Please get in touch with either with us or Postnatal Angel quoting our Mothers Day offer. Offers can be taken together or at separate times.

Our Mother’s Day treat package is £76 – this special offer is a 25% saving on our normal services.

To book or make enquiry just contact either info@the-gentle-touch.com or info@postnatalangel.co.uk