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Where do babies come from?

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I wasn’t expecting THAT question to come this early. Small one is only three!

Stork Mail: (c) dunedhel (IconBug)

To be fair, her nursery teacher just had a baby so it has been a subject of much discussion at playschool. She seemed pretty certain about it all when we were watching Dumbo a couple of weeks ago – “Storks DO NOT deliver babies Mummy”. Oh no…. “Postmen deliver babies!”

Then the lambs at the farm. She knows that lambs come from their mummies’ tummies but there was the tricky question of where mummy sheep come from. Again, we got off lightly. She decided that “Mummies and Grandmas knit the mummy sheep and then the babies go inside”. Sorted!

So I wasn’t really expecting this last night:

Olivia thinks babies come out of their mummy’s tummy, but they don’t – they come out of bums!

Erm! I always promised I would be honest when she asked, so I agreed but then explained that she had actually been taken out of my tummy by the doctor as she got lost on the way out. Possibly more detail than she needed, as the next question was…

Well WHICH babies came out of bums then???!!

That one was simple at least – your brother and your sister did, darling.

Anyone else dealing with difficult questions at the moment?

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Book Review & Giveaway: First-time Mum

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For World Breastfeeding Week 2012, I’m hosting a series of giveaways to celebrate. Today, I have 3 copies of Hollie Smith’s latest book, First Time Mum: Surviving and enjoying your baby’s first year to give away.

The book covers the first year of baby’s life, and starts with some great equipment shopping lists which are broken down into essentials, sometimes useful, and completely unnecessary items. I was sold on her criteria when I saw scratch mitts listed in the pointless section – I was given so many and they fell off within seconds!
(Word to the wise: If your child really needs them, and mine didn’t, socks are far more effective)

There are some great practical tips – a lot of those things you spend the first few weeks struggling with are covered here:

Dressing is a skill that can take a bit of practice. The key aim here is to put the garment on your baby, rather than your baby into the garment…

So simple when you know how! It also covers some of the bigger but less talked-about issues for new mums – the mum & baby groups, isolation and adjustment to the new role, baby blues and postnatal depression, and even a potential return to work. These are a bit hidden at the back of the book, but well written and useful.

There are a couple of mentions of Gina Ford schedules (vs demand feeding) and Cry It Out type sleep training, which made me cringe a bit, but I guess if I want to read a balanced, largely unbiased guide to the first year, then I can expect them to be mentioned. To be clear, they were mentioned, explained, but not recommended, and she did make it clear that most health professionals believe demand feeding is important for continued breastfeeding. Having read the recent research on CIO and the effect it has on brain development, it was interesting to know that although she used these sleep training methods with her own children, she would perhaps choose a gentler approach now.

And what of breastfeeding and feeding advice? It’s pretty balanced really. The advice is practical and direct, and I like her honest approach:

…while some women sail through the start of breastfeeding, for many, it’s no picnic. And it’s better to go into it with realistic expectations and then find it’s easier or more enjoyable than you thought, than imagine it will be some kind of rose-tinted rush, only to experience the absolute opposite.

The author has personal experience of feeding both ways and assumes that most mums will try to breastfeed and that some will then move to formula, which is statistically accurate for the UK. It was good to see instructions for making up a bottle safely too – I still don’t know how, and assume other parents are similarly clueless, plenty of whom actually need that information to look after their child.

All in all, a good read and one I would probably have appreciated before small one was born.

Win a copy of First Time Mum:
If you’d like to win a copy to read yourself, tell me what you would like / would have liked to know before your baby was born. For a bonus entry, either share the giveaway on Facebook, or tweet the following:

I’ve entered to win a copy of First Time Mum by Hollie Smith @MilkChic http://milkchic.co.uk/59425 #parenting #pregnancy #baby

Don’t forget to enter the other World Breastfeeding Week 2012 Giveaways too.

First Time Mum by Hollie Smith is available on Amazon for £8.35 (paperback) or £6.00 (Kindle edition). I received a free copy of the book for the purpose of this review.

Giveaway Terms & Conditions: Restricted to UK & Ireland. Closing date: 18th August 2012, 23:59. Winners will be picked at random from entrants. No cash alternative. If the winner cannot be contacted after 7 days, an alternative may be drawn.

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Guest Post: Travelling abroad with a baby

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You may feel very anxious before you go travelling with a baby for the first time. This is natural as your baby is obviously the most precious thing in your life. However, once you get going and provided you follow these travel tips, you will wonder what on earth all the fuss was about.

Continue reading Guest Post: Travelling abroad with a baby

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Group B Strep – have you heard of it?

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Group B Strep SupportWell, if not, you’re not alone. Last November, a survey found that only 54% young women in the UK had heard of GBS and, of those who had, only 20% knew what it was.

Here are the key facts:

  • Around 20-25% of women carry Group B Strep (also known as GBS and Strep B) as part of their healthy vaginal and rectal bacteria, where it is normal, has no symptoms and causes no problems to the carrier.
  • GBS also causes infection though and is the most common cause of serious infection in newborn babies. Without preventative medicine, around one out of every 300 babies born to women carrying GBS will develop infections such as sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis.
  • Most babies will recover from their GBS infection, but even with the best medical care, around one in every 10 of these sick babies will die and some of the survivors will be left with long-term problems, especially when the baby has had GBS meningitis

Ok, who knew that? We’re told about spina bifida, sickle cell disease, Down’s Syndrome but not about GBS – how come? Maybe nothing can be done about it? Well, no… more facts:

  • Most GBS infections in newborn babies are preventable by giving Mums whose babies are at raised risk antibiotics (usually penicillin) in labour
  • A Mum carrying GBS who has antibiotics in labour has a less than one in 6,000 risk of her newborn developing GBS infection, compared with around a one in 300 chance if she doesn’t.
  • Key risk factors for GBS infection in newborn babies are:
    • A sibling having GBS infection
    • GBS found in the urine or from a vaginal or rectal swab during the current pregnancy
    • Labour starting or waters breaking before 37 weeks of pregnancy
    • Waters breaking more than 18 hours before birth
    • Mum having a raised temperature in labour
  • GBS infection usually shows early – normally on the first day of life. After the first week, these infections are rare and after ago 3 months very rare indeed.
  • Key signs/symptomsof GBS infection in babies include
    • Age 0-6 days: grunting; lethargy; irritability; poor feeding; very high or low heart rate; low blood pressure/ blood sugar; abnormal (high or low) temperature; and abnormal (fast or slow) breathing rates with blueness of the skin due to lack of oxygen (cyanosis)
    • Age 7-90 days: fever; poor feeding and/or vomiting; impaired consciousness; plus typical symptoms of meningitis, including any of: fever, which may include the hands and feet feeling cold, and/or diarrhoea; refusing feeds or vomiting; shrill or moaning cry or whimpering; dislike of being handled, fretful; tense or bulging fontanelle (soft spot on the head); involuntary body stiffening or jerking movements; floppy body; blank, staring or trance-like expression; abnormally drowsy, difficult to wake or withdrawn; altered breathing patterns; turns away from bright lights; and pale and/or blotchy skin.
    • If a baby shows signs consistent with GBS infection or meningitis, call your doctor immediately. If your doctor isn’t available, go straight to your nearest Paediatric Casualty Department. If a baby has GBS infection or meningitis, early diagnosis and treatment are vital: delay could be fatal.

The number of newborns with GBS infection has been rising: up nearly a third since ‘risk-based’ prevention measures were introduced in 2003. UK pregnant women aren’t offered screening for GBS, which may explain this – many western countries routinely screen pregnant women for GBS (usually at 35-37 weeks of pregnancy) and have seen their numbers fall by between 71-86%.

Some enlightened NHS trusts offer some of their pregnant women sensitive tests for GBS carriage (the tests usually used by the NHS were not designed to detect GBS carriage and give high false-negative results) and – if women want to be tested – they can obtain reliable home-testing kits for around £35. Labs listed at http://www.gbss.org.uk/test offer the sensitive ECM (Enriched Culture Medium) test, following the Health Protection Agency National Standard Method.

Somewhat unsurprisingly, when asked, young women say they want to be told about group B Strep, they want to be offered tests for GBS as a routine part of their antenatal care and, if found to be carrying it, they want to be offered antibiotics in labour.

Prevention is better than cure, particularly when we’re talking about life-threatening infections in newborn babies.

Isn’t it about time the UK caught up with other western countries on this?

During GBS Awareness Month, please help protect babies by:

From Mel at MilkChic: This is a guest post from Jane Plumb MBE, of Group B Strep Support. Please take the time to read and share this information and if you have a website, consider downloading a badge. As a Group B Strep carrier myself (routinely swabbed in pregnancy) and having been educated about the risks, I was horrified by the lack of knowledge when I moved to a new area. Preventative measures are so simple for Group B Strep – protection shouldn’t be down to luck.

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