Women need to take extra special care of themselves, especially when they’re pregnant. Medical aids in South Africa do provide pediatric cover, but it’s moms’ responsibility first to ensure that they do as much as possible to have healthy pregnancies and deliver healthy babies. One common health disturbance that can have devastating effects babies is sleep apnoea, especially in obese women.

What is sleep apnoea?
Imagine being fast asleep and you suddenly stop breathing – that’s sleep apnoea. The cessation can be caused by airways that are blocked, especially when body weight bears down on those airways. Sleep apnoea is very common in obese patients. It can cause oxygen deprivation to the blood and brain, which is not only dangerous for pregnant moms, but also for unborn babies who rely on their mothers for nutrients and oxygen.

Sleep Apnoea

Sleep apnoea, obesity, and pregnancy
Not only does obesity cause a whole range of health problems (especially for pregnant women), but the sleep apnoea correlates with many other complications such as hypertension, diabetes, and circulation issues. In a study performed on 175 obese pregnant women, 42% of the women who experienced sleep apnoea and other sleep disturbances also developed pre-eclampsia; with 65% of the obese moms needing to deliver via C-section. These numbers were more than 50% higher than the mothers who didn’t suffer from sleep apnoea.

With such a close correlation, it’s important that obese mothers-to-be receive the right screenings for pregnancy complications so that the appropriate treatment can be administered early. It’s also important that doctors work together with their obese patients to tackle their obesity, which will lower their risk of other complications and ensure a much healthier pregnancy for both them and their babies.

visual courtesy of: bodyandsoul.com/ napavalleysleepsolutions.com

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Babies reach their developmental milestones at different times. One of the more constant milestones is when your baby should start eating solid foods. The World Health Organisation recommends that six months of age is the average earliest time at which to start on the solids. Why is that so?

 baby eating solids

By the age of six months, your baby’s digestive system would have had time to adjust to doing its job, as would her immune system. Waiting until six months before you start her on solids is a much safer option than feeding her solids before six months, and her digestive system will be more mature and able to handle the density of the food. Also, when her immune system has built up some strength and is more able to fight off infections, your baby is less likely to have an adverse reaction to foods, especially foods like dairy, wheat, citrus, eggs, and fish.

 Baby_eating_an_apple

If you and your baby are on an affordable medical aid, it would be worthwhile to take her to a paediatrician – one that specialises in infant nutrition – especially if she’s already starting to show that she’s ready for solids. She may be displaying signs like still being hungry right after feeding, or perhaps her weight gain has begun to slow down, or she’s putting toys and other objects in her mouth.

 

If your baby was born prematurely or is reaching her other milestones at times that don’t seem in line with your expectations, she may also wean off breast-milk earlier than the six-month mark. If you are unsure of what to do, don’t hesitate to get in contact with your GP or your child’s doctor for the best advice.

Visuals courtesy of 9jamom.com and armadillo.co.uk

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There are a few great medical aids in South Africa that encourage their members to maintain a healthy, fit lifestyle in order to live better lives and also reap the benefits from their medical aids. For many people, it’s easy to decide on a fitness plan and start working on their physical health straight away, but if you’re pregnant, you need to pay careful attention to these dos and don’ts when considering exercising during your pregnancy:

 exercising moms to be

If you maintained a relatively good level of physical fitness before your pregnancy, you can expect to continue exercising while pregnant, although it’s advisable to bring the level of strenuous exercises down a few notches. However, it’s IMPERATIVE that you see your doctor or gynaecologist and get the A-okay from them before you start or continue with any exercise programmes. This is the ONLY “do” for exercising while pregnant: DO consult your doctor first!

 pregnant women workout

DON’T exercise while pregnant if:

  • you have an existing heart condition or a risk for pulmonary hypertension and other circulation issues
  • you are prone to suffer from lung problems associated with asthma or bronchitis
  • you are at risk for cervical cerclage (an incompetent cervix)
  • you are expecting twins or triplets, or have another risk for premature labour
  • you are experiencing bleeding in the second and third trimesters
  • you’ve had premature labour
  • you have pregnancy-induced high blood pressure
  • you have very low iron levels
  • you have Type 1 diabetes
  • you are morbidly obese or extremely underweight
  • your usual lifestyle has been very sedentary

 

There are a range of other conditions that will limit you to not exercising during your pregnancy, so we cannot emphasise it enough: check with your doctor and get the all-clear before you do any exercise. In the meantime, eat healthily and keep yourself well hydrated!

 

Visuals courtesy of  crossfitshoes.com and dailymail.co.uk

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If it’s almost time for your little angel’s first birthday, you’ll want to make it a special one. She probably won’t remember much from her party, but looking back on the photos when she turns 21 will make you (and her) glad you went to the trouble. If you’re considering throwing her a party, here’s what you should include:

baby's first birthday

Where

At this early age, your one-year-old will still be nervous about strange new places and people, so hosting her party at home will be the safest bet for making her feel secure in a familiar place. Cordon off an area in the living room or dining room with adequate place for your close family and friends who will be attending. Keep valuables and breakables out of the way, and ensure your pets are occupied elsewhere.

birthday party decor

Who

Your close family and friends may want to celebrate your child’s first birthday with you, so keep the guest list limited to people that your little one is already familiar with. A large party with lots of strange new faces may make her feel scared.

 

When

Choose a time of the day when your baby is most active. Enjoying a birthday party during this time will ensure that she uses up every ounce of her energy, but also that she isn’t cranky and tired. If you are inviting other young mums and there tiny tots, ensure that the party is not during their nap times either.

 

What

You will not need a lot of food or activities for a one-year-old’s birthday party. If there are other infants there, you can provide food that isn’t a choking hazard (peanuts, raisins, sweets, and other small solids are a no-no). Cheese squares, pieces of fruit, crustless sandwiches, or tasty biscuits may work. Aim for small amounts of a wide variety of foods for the little ones, and easy-to-eat finger foods for the adults.

 

A birthday cake and a special gift will be mandatory for birthdays, but forego things like balloons, which can be a choking hazard, as well as party poppers, which can make unexpected loud noises. Throw on a nursery rhyme CD and you should be all set!

Visuals courtesy of sheknows.com and babylifestyles.com

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We all want what’s best for our children, so it may be devastating to learn that your child has a neurodevelopmental disorder like autism. Autism can make it extremely difficult for your child to communicate with other people, interact socially, and experience normal cognitive, behavioural, and speech development. Whether your child has developed as expected and has begun to regress into an autistic state, or whether you’ve noticed the signs early on, it’s important to immediately seek out a diagnosis and care as soon as you can.

autism 1

In short, here are some guidelines on how to care for a child with autism:

 

Learn as much as you can

Get as much information as you can about autism. This will help you to make informed decisions about treatment and the kind of support you can provide. It’s also important to become the number one expert on your child – how he behaves, what his triggers are, and the situations that he finds stressful. Understand that these are just aspects of who he is, and should be accepted for.

autism 2

Be consistent

A child with autism struggles the most with adaptation and learning to adapt their behaviour from one situation to the next. As long as you provide a consistent routine in familiar environments, and stick to the schedule that your child knows, you’ll be helping him.

 

Learn to communicate in non-verbal ways

Children with autism often don’t communicate verbally, so it’s up to you to be attentive to how they communicate non-verbally. Identify those behaviours and learn to respond appropriately. It’s important that you are very aware and observant towards what can be very subtle communication methods. If your child throws a tantrum, it’s probably because he’s frustrated by his inability to effectively communicate what he wants or needs.

 

Focus on the unique treatment

All autism patients will have their own unique treatments based on their strengths and weaknesses and learning abilities. Be proactive in discovering your child’s treatment needs and work on them accordingly.

 

Helping an autistic child is hard, full-time work. While it’s essential to find help and support groups for him, don’t forget about finding support for yourself too.

Visuals courtesy of speechbuddy.com and specialneeds.com

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There are few mothers who can afford to stay at home these days and are busier than ever being mothers, employees (or employers), and wives, among other roles. There are huge sacrifices that moms make to be able to provide a stable life for their kids, but quality time doesn’t have to be one of those sacrifices. Here’s how to make more time for your children:

mother with child

1. Relax your housework standards
You don’t need to constantly maintain a house that’s worthy of a décor magazine spread. Many moms have found it difficult, yet worthwhile, to relax their standards of cleanliness in order to spend more time with their kids. Some moms have found inventive ways to do the housework on the go – such as only cleaning one room a day, which frees up plenty of time in the short-term.

2. Involve the kids and hubby
Get your husband or partner as well as the kids involved in doing the chores with you. You can turn housework into a game – whoever does their chores the fastest gets their dinner first, etc. – and also promote the sense of responsibility and care that comes with doing chores.

Mom and dad with child

3. Employ a helper
Employing a cleaner or nanny to help you with housework and childcare means you free up quality time to spend with the children. Sure, the additional cost may weigh on your budget, but the added benefits far outweigh the financial layout. You are providing someone with an employment opportunity; you’ll come home to a clean house; and food will be prepared (or on the stove, at least), which takes a massive load off your shoulders and gives you the space and time to be a mother to your kids.

Visual courtesy of: i.telegraph.co.uk and www.more4kids.info

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Vegetarians and vegans have recently come under a lot of fire for maintaining their lifestyle and eating habits to the detriment of their children’s (especially infants’) health. However, just because you choose to be vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean that your children’s diets will be inadequate. If you’re breastfeeding, here are some great, healthful foods to eat, which will supply your body with the nutrition your baby needs:

1. A variety of foods

No matter which foods you choose to focus on, be sure to eat a variety of foods. This will ensure an even spread of nutrients and vitamins, but it will also provide your child with a broad palate, which will make the phase of solid food experimentation a lot smoother.

vegetable variety

2. Blueberries

The magic berries of any diet, blueberries deliver a power-packed vitamin punch, providing vitamins A and K, potassium, fibre, as well as antioxidants… and they’re delicious!

blueberries

3. Avocados and nuts

Get in as many healthy fats as you can without picking up weight. Avos and nuts have plenty of vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acids, as well as B-vitamins (avocado especially), which will provide breastfeeding moms with a healthy and natural energy boost.

4. Oats

Get the required amount of iron in your diet by eating simple, yet easy-to-enjoy oats. Complex carbs with lots of fibre and protein, oats will keep you fuller for longer and keep your energy levels up, while still providing all the goodness and nutrients to your baby via your breast-milk.

5. Legumes

Legumes are nature’s power-protein when it comes to the vegetarian way of life. Beans, lentils, and peas are low-fat, yet high-energy, and contain such important nutrients as folate, magnesium, iron, and potassium, which are essential for your baby’s healthy development.

Medical aids in South Africa do cover specialist visits, so if you are concerned about your vegetarianism affecting your baby’s health, or want to get more information on the best diets to follow for healthy vegetarian breastfeeding, visit your nutritionist and put your mind at ease.

Visuals courtesy of betterhensandgardens.com and homelife.com.au

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Do you have a strange pain behind your right eye? Have your headaches persisted for longer than three days? What’s that strange rash on your feet? Your body uses symptoms to alert you to the fact that your health is imbalanced and, once you become aware of this, to find a treatment to restore that balance. Most people would go to the doctor if they didn’t understand the symptoms or were looking for an accurate diagnosis. So why is it that so many of us turn to “Dr. Google” in an effort to diagnose ourselves?

Looking for the answers online
Googling our symptoms and trying to diagnose ourselves seems “logical” if we’re looking for an excuse to not visit the doctor. There are many OTC medications for headaches and foot fungus, so why spend that time in the doctor’s waiting room if he’s just going to tell us what Dr. Google told us to begin with?

laptop stethoscope hand

The dangers of internet self-diagnosis
Two members of the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology say that the trend of internet self-diagnosis is a dangerous line to walk – for two reasons. Firstly, we are inclined to simply search for and diagnose our symptoms instead of looking at family history and the medical risk we have (not only symptoms) for the diseases we’re diagnosing. This is dangerous because, for example, many of the symptoms for a heart attack are similar to those of indigestion. Unless we understand all the factors involved in diagnosis, we are very likely to get it wrong.

Secondly, the factor of “psychological distance” comes into play. How close are we to the ill person who’s describing their symptoms online? How we feel about ourselves will also determine how we come to a diagnosis. Even if the Googler has all of the symptoms of HIV, their self-positivity and psychological distance will likely bring them to the conclusion of “There’s no way it will happen to me.”

Pills laptop, and stethoscope

In conclusion
No matter how “small” you think your symptoms may be, it’s important that you visit your doctor to get an informed and objective opinion to help you decide what course of treatment to pursue in order to restore your health.

Visual of: waitingroom.ie and cdn.drugwatch.com

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Young infants may have very wayward schedules for their bowel movements. The rule of thumb is that there is no rule of thumb, and each baby will have their own schedule for when they “go”. For some babies, it’s immediately after meals, while for others it could be every other day – you simply need to identify the pattern and then keep track of it to be able to identify if something doesn’t seem right.

Constipation in babies can make itself known with a few symptoms: either your baby’s bowel movement pattern goes out of sync; she’s visibly uncomfortable when she does go; or her stools seem drier than usual.

Baby Constipated

What could be making her constipated?

A change in feeding patterns is one possible reason for your baby’s constipation. As her digestive system adjusts to – for instance – solids, baby formula, or any other changes in her diet, it could result in constipation. Try to identify the culprit and rectify the constipation by introducing more fats and proteins, and ensure that she gets plenty of water and other sources of hydration.

Constipated infant

When introducing your baby to solid foods, take note of the foods she eats before she gets constipated. Many babies start off with rice cereals, which are low in fibre, and therefore don’t stimulate the digestive system as much as fibre-based solids would.

Your baby’s constipation might also be related to a more serious underlying condition. Hypothyroidism and any number of disorders in metabolic syndrome could result in constipation as a symptom. Although these underlying conditions are rare, you should definitely keep an eye on your baby’s behaviour. If her constipation doesn’t respond to any change in diet or activity, it may be time to see a paediatrician, whose care will be available on an affordable medical aid.

Visual courtesy of: www.pregnantwomentips.com and www.newborn-baby-care.com

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Potty training is a huge milestone in any child’s (and parent’s) life and is the first signal of their inevitable independence. Since every child “decides” to potty train in their own time, it might prove difficult to know when the time is right for your own child. You may be at the ready to potty train, but how do you know it’s the right time? Here are some possible signs that your child will use to tell you:

1. His pants don’t stay up
No matter where he is or who’s around him, your son has no problem dropping his pants or even removing his own diaper when potty issues arise. Now is the time to start encouraging him to use the toilet. Keep those wet wipes close!

2. He’s dry after naps
When your child’s nappy stays dry for longer periods of time, especially after nap time, it’s an indication that his bladder and bowel control is improving and it may be time to start potty training.

Baby being potty trained

3. He’s embracing toilet talk
If your child is ready to start using the bathroom on his own, he will very likely tell you… even if it’s in his own way. Using words as direct as “pee-pee” and “poo-poo” are a good sign, but also be aware of more indirect language cues. Encourage him to let you know when he wants to go, and then be supportive and praising when he does!

4. You can’t keep him out of the bathroom
As a mom, you should be used to your little one having free reign to come and go as he pleases… even when you’re on the loo. However, pay attention when he becomes more and more interested in what’s happening in the bathroom, and encourage him to try it out for himself.

Baby preparing to be potty trained

Even if you think your child is ready for potty-training, but it’s a false alarm, never pressure him to perform. Let him gain that independence in his own time – your patience will soon be rewarded.

Visuals courtesy of: 4.bp.blogspot.com and media3.onsugar.com

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