Nursing Mums – When that bad mood is something more

The birth of a child can be a joyous and exciting time, but following childbirth, some women exhibit behavioural changes that tend to blight the moment. They may experience baby blues, a mental health challenge, which occurs during and immediately after childbirth. Experts say that this condition is very common and treatable, reports Sade Oguntola.

Looking at Aishat Adekunle, a mother of two, it was obvious that all was not well. She sat at the far end of the room looking at her baby, lost and uninterested in the people around her. Her mother was holding the baby as she talks to the doctor on several attempts to get Mrs Adekunle involved in the care of her baby that proved abortive.

Motherhood is often thought of as a time of bliss, with mother and baby quickly forming a joyful bond. But sometimes, a mother may experience an array of confusing and frightening symptoms for which she is completely unprepared. She might find herself unable to sleep or eat, be subject to sudden panic attacks, or feel nothing toward the baby she had expected to enjoy. Often, mothers feel inadequate and guilty, afraid to admit their feelings, especially in an age where women are expected to be “super moms”.

Now researchers understand that early motherhood is a time of great stress considering the biological confusion from the pregnancy combined with sleep deprivation, and the strain of changing daily routines. The mood swings, a new study published in JAMA Psychiatry, which could start during pregnancy or in the first months after giving birth, said can increase her child’s risk for depression 18 years later.

Research shows that half to as many as 85 per cent of new mothers, experience what’s called “baby blues” — an intermittent sadness early in the baby’s life. But about 14 per cent of these new mothers show signs of sorrow that is deeper and lasting more than a few weeks, and they have lost interest in their daily activities, often including the baby.
A fraction develops a condition called postpartum psychosis. They hear voices, sometimes telling them to harm themselves or their new baby.

New mothers who suffer depression or psychosis probably have a genetic vulnerability to the hormone disruptions of pregnancy, or to a major mood disorder, or have fewer reserves to cope with the stress of new parenthood. Of course, some of its signs may have been showing during pregnancy, but now get worse after pregnancy because of some situations.
The prevalence and the significant risk factors for maternity blues seem to differ across culture. For instance in Ile-Ife in Osun State, a study puts the prevalence of maternity blues at 31.3 per cent, and its symptoms peaked on the fifth day after delivery.

Dr Chinedu Nwokocha, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, University College Hospital (UCH), Ibadan, Oyo State said, “quite a number of cases of women who develop maternal blues, a mental health problem after delivery, go unnoticed because they are mild. But where it goes beyond this, into what is termed puerperal psychosis or frank madness, such is easily noticed.”
“Such new mothers will not be interested in taking care of their babies and might want to harm their babies. They might be withdrawn, not wanting to see their husbands or even experience crying spells,” he said.

Recalling a case he had handled before, the medical practitioner said, “the woman had no manifestation throughout pregnancy. But she developed puerperal psychosis four days after childbirth and had to be admitted. She was a banker. This means it can affect any woman, irrespective of her social status.”

Although mental illnesses such as frank madness or schizophrenia is not reason a woman should not get pregnant and have a baby, Dr Nwokocha said, however, “if a patient for some reason default in her treatment and eventually gets pregnant, such could result into puerperal psychosis. Of course, this would affect the way they take care of themselves and their babies.
“In fact, at that period, some of them might not even want to see their husbands. In fact, there was a lady in China who stabbed her baby 90 times because the baby bit her nipple while breastfeeding.

“To the outside world, the situation may look ridiculous, but to the medics, they know that the woman obviously had puerperal psychosis. So it is important that people should actually embrace orthodox medicine rather than dismissing this obvious medical condition that has a solution.”

For him, the case of a mother in Osun State who committed suicide 11 days after delivering a set of twins by jumping into a river put a question mark on the health system in Nigeria.

The medical expert expressed the possibility of the woman failing to access antenatal care at the hospital during pregnancy, thereby preventing the problem from being detected early. According to him, “It is important that pregnant women access proper care and the doctors should watch out for things that suggest a problem.”

Why baby blues, depression or even puerperal psychosis in pregnant women and can their husbands help in its prevention?
According to Dr Nwokocha, “we normally encourage the men to accompany them to antenatal clinic so that we can tell them things to expect so that these things can easily be taken care of or even prevented.

“Sometimes, it is the continuous pressure that they could have and without the support and understanding of their partner that will trigger the full blown puerperal psychosis, which is not palatable.

“There are so many behaviours that we see in pregnancy due to increasing hormones such as a woman craving to eat sand. Such things if not taken care off early can tip some women over to a serious mental issue after delivery. So we need to note, recognise and do something about them. Most importantly, they need support, they need understanding in pregnancy.”

Also speaking, Dr Jibril Abdulmalik, a consultant psychiatrist at the same hospital, stated that mental illness or psychological problems had to do with the brain. “Every part of our body can develop problems at any point in time. The brain, too, can also develop problems in terms of thinking, emotion and behaviour at any time. Some disorders are commoner at specific periods. There are some that are peculiar to women at different stages of life and these include depression and psychosis.”

Just as there are medical conditions that are specific to pregnancy such as eclampsia, Dr Abdulmalik said depression has implications both for the mother and the baby. Studies have shown that women who have depression have a higher chance of having complications.
“When the mental problem starts in pregnancy, they may give birth to small or premature babies. Where the woman is feeling sad, crying all the time, feeling hopeless and had lost interest in looking after herself or the baby, in its extreme form, it could lead to suicide or killing her baby,” said Dr Abdulmalik.

“In our environment, we usually attribute many things such as tiredness to pregnancy. Although some of these symptoms occur in pregnancy, when they are quite severe, it may be that there is actually a depression, and not merely symptoms of pregnancy.”
People need to know that this is actually a medical problem. It is as a result of certain chemicals in the brain which affect their behaviour. So, it is not enough to tell them to be strong or be critical about them, treatment would be required if it is severe,” Abdulmalik stated.

Some of the symptoms to watch out for, according to the expert, are excessive feeling of sadness, moodiness and tiredness all the time; hopelessness or pessimism about the future, poor appetite and problems with sleeping, all lasting for a long period of time.

Pregnancy Wait: 8 Ways to Engage Yourself During the Two-week wait

To the uninitiated, the two-week wait (2WW) — the stretch between ovulation and the moment when a home pregnancy test might provide reliable feedback — may not sound like torture.

But anyone who has longed to see two lines, a cross or a big fat “positive” (BFP) pop up, knows how interminable those days feel. There’s impatience (Can I test now? Now?), anxiety (What if it never happens?) and, frequently, sadness (I can’t believe we’re back here again). Nothing will entirely zap those feelings, but here are some coping strategies that might help you make it through fourteen long days:

1. Step away from the computer.
This one’s tricky, said Jean Twenge, Ph.D, author of “The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant” and a professor of psychology at San Diego State University stated that, many women have a tendency to obsessively Google symptoms, which is a form of rumination — a word whose root comes from cows, chewing cud over and over .. and over.

Social media can also be bad news during the two-week wait, said Susan Allen, a licensed marriage and family therapist in California who focuses on infertility. “People say, ‘I can’t see one more photo; it’s wounding to see that,'” she said. “It’s hard, your peer group is moving on and you’re in this space where you don’t fit in with them in the way you did before.” She recommends that women in her fertility support groups limit their Facebook and Instagram time.

The key, both experts said, is to try and be honest with yourself about how you’re using the internet.

2. Distract, distract, distract. (And plan for it.)

Staying off the Internet is, of course, much easier said than done. To give yourself a fighting chance, distraction is essential, as is a game plan for how you’re going to actually go about it.

“Say you have a favorite author — go and search for good books, but put off reading them until the two-week wait, then get yourself involved in them,” Twenge said. Same goes for that TV series you’ve been wanting to binge watch, or that new class or restaurant you’ve been wanting to try — plan ahead and make sure your wait is packed with engrossing activities that don’t allow your mind to wander too much.

3. Write it down.

Again, trying not to ruminate is hard. But Twenge, who personally struggled with not obsessing while trying to conceive, said that writing in a journal can help. “It will be your ruminative, obsessive thoughts, but there’s something about putting them down on paper that helps,” she said.

Twenge said you can write your thoughts down throughout the day as they pop up. But a better technique, in her opinion, is to do it all at once — “for 20 minutes straight, or however long it takes you to get all of the things that are turning over and over in your mind (How good was our timing? What did the doctor say about our treatment? How many months has it been?) put down on paper, and out of your head.”

4. Stroll. Sleep. Take care of yourself.

Sometimes something as simple as putting one foot in front of the other can help boost your mood and get you out of your own head — if only for a few minutes. Twenge stressed the importance of paying attention to your overall well-being throughout the wait: Exercise, get to bed 15 to 30 minutes earlier than you did the night before, spend time with friends and get out in the sun, all of which can help with feelings of anxiety and depression.

You don’t have to become a health nut. “Gentle walking outside in nature is huge, cooking healthy food, reading fiction — anything you can do that is part of regular self-care can help,” said Allen. And there’s the added bonus that if you do get pregnant, you’re off to a good start.

5. Give yourself sad days.

Every month that the two-week waits ends in a negative feels like a loss, Allen said, and women should give themselves the time and space to honor their sadness — which is particularly challenging, when there’s this “quick refocus” on the next cycle. If you’re sad, be sad.

Don’t beat yourself up over it. Talk to a friend, partner or therapist (maybe over some sushi, with a glass of wine … things you’ll likely be warned about during pregnancy), Allen said. Get your feelings down in a journal or a letter to your future child or to yourself — you don’t have to send it.

6. Try an intention.

Setting a daily intention — like, “I let go of things outside of my control,” Allen suggested, or “I’m doing everything I can to become pregnant,” — is, itself, a form of distraction from negative emotions. If it works for you, you can develop a more formal practice — sitting in the morning, and repeating a mantra — but it doesn’t have to be that concrete at all, Allen said. “A big piece of it is just having it on a post-it note, or having it on your computer so you can remind yourself,” she said.

7. Practice a relaxation technique.
“Obviously relaxation is huge in any kind of psychotherapy these days — focusing on the breath, taking that pause,” Allen said. But too often, people try and use a technique in the moment when they haven’t developed the skill yet. And yes, it’s a skill, according to Twenge. “You have to practice when you’re not anxious,” she said, explaining that it can be whatever works for you — deep breathing, visualizations, yoga, meditation. Though they can certainly help foster a sense of calm that seeps into your day-to-day life, relaxation techniques are particularly useful in the moment — when you’re waiting for a phone call from the fertility doctor, or are just about to pee on a stick.

8. Try defensive pessimism.

In her book, Twenge urges women to consider tempering their expectations, up to a point. “For something partially out of your control like getting pregnant, being optimistic can sometimes really mess you up,” she writes. Studies have shown that defensive pessimism — approaching a stressful situation (i.e., getting pregnant) with lowered expectations — can help bolster well-being and lower anxiety. If you tell yourself it’s likely to take six months or more to get pregnant, you’ll be pleasantly surprised if it happens right away, Twenge writes, and better prepared, emotionally, if it doesn’t.

If you’re a naturally optimistic person, there is no reason to try and change your energy. “Finding that middle ground is the best place to be,” Allen said.

Culled from Huffpost

6 Things Moms Need to Know About Br*astfeeding

I am a breastfeeding mom.

I have seen both sides of this painful, powerful feeding debate, so I think that it’s time to tell the truth about breastfeeding. It doesn’t always make you popular to tell the truth. But I hear from moms every day who ask what I did differently this time.

They are desperate to know the truth about breastfeeding. Is it possible to make milk after not being able to breastfeed the first time? How did you learn to breastfeed? Will it work for me? The answer is maybe. And maybe not. But the most important thing about planning to breastfeed, is that you go into it with your eyes wide open. So here you go. But don’t tell anyone I told you…

1. Breastfeeding can hurt. There, I said it. Breastfeeding can hurt like a **bad word redacted**. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing it wrong. Many people will have you believe that nursing is easy and beautiful and natural and that you will get blessed from the boobie fairy up above and make magical milk that flows out and smells like chocolate chip cookies. Or something like that. The truth is that you have to learn how to breastfeed. You and your baby have great instincts, but more often than not, you’ll both need a little Boobie 101 along the way. After we worked through some obstacles and I learned how to help Ben latch better, it stopped hurting. OK, since we’re telling the whole truth, you also need to know that Ben had a tongue tie that was clipped by an ENT, and that helped him to latch better. And that I once made a lactation consultant cry. I also recommend buying stock in the companies that make lanolin and nipple balm. Use it! Constantly! For us it took a full two months before I felt like things were “right”. Some moms notice a difference after the first few weeks. The key to making it not hurt is…

2. Breastfeeding takes a village. Find a lactation consultant or doula and make her your best friend. I know that people like to say that women innately know how to do this mothering stuff, but not all of us feel confident knowing how to stand up and give birth against a tree in the woods. OK, most of us don’t. Same with breastfeeding. Knowledge is power. A great, empathetic, wise lactation professional will grab your boob and show you where it goes. When you are four days postpartum and feeling like hell, have her come to your house. If you can’t do that, ask one of your girlfriends who breastfed to come over and show you how to hold your baby and get them to latch correctly. Find a wonderful breastfeeding support group to attend.

Find an online support group where you can ask questions and receive “been there, done that” answers. Find someone who knows what breastfeeding looks like, and ask them to teach you. It’s awkward at first. It’s not a skill that the birthing fairy sprinkles over you like pixie dust the moment that the baby comes out. There is a learning curve, and you will need a teacher. Or in my case, many teachers.

3. If you want to make milk, you have to nurse. Constantly. Itty bitty babies don’t need to nurse on a schedule. They need to nurse whenever they’re hungry. Or tired. Or cranky. Or happy. In other words, pretty much all the damn time. This is exhausting for moms. Exhausting. Regardless of how you feed your baby, you need to rely on your village to take care of everything else. Let someone else cook/clean/pack school lunches. Your job is to feed and snuggle your baby. The more milk your baby removes from your breasts, the more milk your body makes. Supply and demand. If your body is able to make milk (and not everyone can), it’s important to remember that you have to tell your body what you need. If you give baby a bottle, then you need to pump. If you go too long without feeding, you are sending your body a signal that it can take a break from making milk.

Communicate with your boobs. Make them work for you. I mean, for your baby. And if you are doing all of these things and still not making enough milk? I’ll tell you a secret that I’m not supposed to share… some moms don’t make enough milk. They don’t. For all kinds of reasons, that have nothing to do with how hard they tried or how badly they wanted to nurse. So please please pretty please remember that if you are NOT making milk, it is not your fault. There are many reasons why women can’t/don’t make milk. Talk to a lactation consultant. Get some ideas about how to increase your supply. Or don’t. If you decide to use formula, take a deep breath, remind yourself that you are an amazing mom, and read this.

4. Breastfeeding is an extraordinary privilege. Gasp. I know. I said it. Now read it again. Ladies, breastfeeding is an extraordinary privilege. I know what it is like to be on both sides of the baby-feeding debate. My first son was fed with formula, and he is a brilliant, beautiful, charming, absolutely perfect child. I’ll venture to say that he turned out that way because of our stellar parenting… and because he was genetically predisposed to be wonderful. My second son is breastfed. And just as beautiful, brilliant and charming. Is breast milk fantastic? Yes, yes, yes. A million times yes. Is it the cure-all for every ailment and sickness under the sun? No. (Don’t spam me with comments about how breast milk cures everything. For some it does, for some it doesn’t.) Is it “easy”? Sometimes. Once I got the hang of it, it was definitely easier than formula feeding, for ME. Is it for everyone? Nope. And it’s not my job or responsibility to make the decision about what is right for you and your family. Every time that Ben nestles into the crook of my arm and his big hazel eyes lock on to mine as my breasts let down, I am absolutely floored by how lucky I am to nurse him. I still exhale when I feel the milk start to flow. My heart still races when I’m out running an errand and Sean is at home with a hungry baby who is waiting patiently for me to return. I am overwhelmed by gratitude when my baby gives me the look that says, “I’ve been waiting for you. You are my lovey. You are what I need.” That is an extraordinary privilege, for ME. And I know every minute of every day that to honor that privilege, I must never forget that breastfeeding is not something that comes easy, or is a choice for everyone. Because…

5. Not everyone can breastfeed. Oh mamas… please read that again. Not every woman can breastfeed. And when you are not able to breastfeed, or choose not to breastfeed, or don’t have the opportunity to breastfeed, it stirs up a shit-ton of feelings and dumps them on your head. I couldn’t breastfeed my first son, and it broke my heart. I still don’t feel like I “belong” in the breastfeeding community sometimes, and I’ve nursed Ben for a YEAR now. Nursing mamas, please keep your formula-feeding sisters in mind when you do your touchdown dance. Or when you complain about leaking or a baby who constantly grabs your boobs. Or when you alleviate your own exhaustion and frustration by telling another mom that she just didn’t try hard enough at breastfeeding. You have so much to be proud of, but be grateful. Be grateful. And….

6. Take a breastfeeding selfie. Look at yourself. I want you to see what breastfeeding really looks like. I want you to take a picture of what it looks like to nurse your tiny newborn. Of what it looks like to nurse a 9-month-old who has a stacking block in one hand and is kicking your arm while he hums and nurses. What it looks like to nurse a 1-year-old while his big brother tries to head-butt him (because, why not?).

Then put your phone down, and do a silent cheer for your badass, amazing, breastfeeding self. This time? These moments of watching your baby’s eyelids flutter while their hand reaches up to stroke your collarbone? They are seconds that become minutes, days that fade into weeks, and years that will quickly fade away. Look at how amazing you are! Look at the picture!

Breastfeeding is hard work, mama! It is one of the most wonderful, heart-wrenching, soul-healing, self-doubting, self-confidence crushing and self-confidence boosting experiences I’ve ever had. I know that I won’t always be the most important thing in my son’s life. But for these moments? These minutes between 3:30 a.m. and the time that Ben falls back to sleep, rubbing my arm with his little chubby hand while he nurses? This is the time when we are most at peace. I will never stop feeling grateful, because I was blessed for just this season, to finally make milk.

Huffpost parents

PayPal Launches Services in Ten New Countries

PayPal is extending its services to ten new countries this week, including Nigeria, providing online payment alternatives for consumers via mobile phones or PCs in markets often plagued by financial fraud.

Rupert Keeley, the executive in charge of the EMEA region of PayPal, the payments unit of eBay Inc, stated this in an interview on Monday

This expansion brings the number of countries Paypal serves to 203.

Hence, from tomorrow, consumers in Nigeria, Africa’s largest country, along with nine other markets in sub-Saharan Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America who have access to Web and a bank card authorized for Internet transactions will be able to register for a PayPal account and make payments to millions of sites worldwide.

Initially, PayPal is only offering “send money” services for consumers to pay for goods and services at PayPal-enabled merchant sites while safeguarding their financial details. This is free to consumers and covered by fees it charges merchants.

This is a warm and welcome news to consumers in these countries.

#HappyMothersDay: 23 Kids Reveal Their Secrets to Mom

There will always be a few secrets that you just can’t tell mom.

Whether it’s the beer you stole from the garage back when you were broke after college, or the real reason you totalled the car in high school, some things are better kept undercover.

The anonymous posting app Secret offers a platform on which frustrated offspring can secretly unload their weighty confessions.

Moms of the world, consider yourself warned.

7 Useful Habits You Should Teach Your Children

I’m sure you want to teach your children a lot of good habits, but what is the best way to do it? One of the best ways to do it is certainly to be a role model for your kids. Children can learn almost from everything they see and it is very important to show them a good pattern to follow. Sometimes it may not work, but mainly children learn from what their parents do. So be very careful with what you do and make sure you teach your kids the following important habits.
Useful Habits You Should Teach Your Children

1. Manners


The first thing you need to teach your kids is the good manners. Look around you and you will see that not only do kids lack manners today, but grownups as well. And it’s actually where the problem is. Children are absorbing information from wherever they can, so you need to show good manners for them to learn. Never forget to use “please” and “thank you”, no matter what. And you will see your children a polite grownups one day.

2. Kindness


I used to tell my kids that everyone should be treated with kindness. But if I speak badly about people I do not like, it won’t teach my children kindness. So I let them see that we may not like some people, but nevertheless we are to behave kindly to them. Because it is the way we want be treated.

3. Hygiene


Most of the parents know how difficult it is to teach children hygiene. So you must be ready as it will take a lot of time to show you kids that it is important to brush their teeth and have a shower. You will need to let them know the necessity of combing hair, washing face and when you succeed, hygiene will become part of their daily routine.

4. Healthy food

Healthy food

Nowadays, we have a lot of problems with children’s health, and one of them is obesity. Sure, you want your kids to be healthy, which is why you need to create healthy eating habits for them. You can do it by showing them you eat only healthy foods. Make sure you eat natural food instead of chips and hamburgers. It doesn’t mean that you will never eat them again, but make you kids understand that treat is something than do not happens often. Just choose your food well and your kids will follow you.

5. Sport


If you don’t like to exercise, don’t expect your children to go in for sport. I can give you a bit of advice – do it together. Thus, you will spend more time with your children and will be able to show them healthy way of life. Isn’t it great? You can play active games with your kids, such as basketball or football or just do some routine exercises together. Don’t make them do it, just let them watch, and I bet they will join you. It will help you to keep fit as well as model healthy habit to your kids.

6. Compassion


Every human needs to know that someone cares about him. Teaching you kids to be compassionate will help them through their lives. Children need to be understood and in this way they will learn to understand others, understand their necessities and actions. Talk to your children, ask them what they feelings are, and ask them to see things from other people’s point of view. If you are able to show them compassion, they will never pass by someone in need and they will be loved in return.

7. Responsibility


One more important thing to teach your kids is responsibility. If you want your children to take responsibility for their actions, you need to “start low, go slow”. For example, if you want them to be responsible for their own dirty dishes and dirty laundry, you need to care about your own dishes and laundry. The same thing goes about work. Before demanding for the homework to be done, make sure you don’t forget about your work obligations. A good example is everything you need to make things done.

So now that you know about importance of modeling for your kids, do you think your behavior is a good model for them? Or, perhaps, you need to change or add something to it?

7 Ways to Throw a Wonderful Birthday Party for Your Toddler

Birthday is the most favourite and desirable event for all people. We look forward to this great event that is usually celebrated with our family and friends. When it comes to your toddler’s birthday you become especially concerned. It is necessary to think over every detail and plan everything beforehand in order to have an unforgettable birthday party. Surely, all parents want to arrange a perfect celebration for their kids, but they often make some mistakes that can lead to stress and disappointment. I’d like to say that planning a birthday party for your toddler is not as difficult as you think. Consider the following tips that will certainly help you to throw a wonderful birthday party for your little one.
Ways to Throw a Wonderful Birthday Party for Your Toddler

1. Keep It Simple

The main idea you should bear in mind when preparing for your kid’s birthday party is to make it simple. You don’t need to complicate things and search for sophisticated ways of celebration. Actually, it’s very easy to impress toddlers and bring them happiness. First of all, I would recommend you to plan some funny and enjoyable activities that will please your kids, but not the ones that will create a show for adults. On this special day all your attention should be focused on your children and the major goal for you is to give them only bright and positive emotions.

2. Plan Time Properly

One of the most important rules you have to stick to when organizing a party for toddlers is to remember about the time. It will be nice if you plan the total time of your party and decide how long every activity will last. Moreover, you should choose carefully the time for your celebration since your toddler may need a nap during the day. So, you’d better arrange the party at a time when your child is fresh and active. Make sure that kids have enough time for fun and entertainments but don’t tire them much.

3. Involve Them

This is your kid’s birthday and you should plan its celebration together. Try different methods to make your toddler participate in the party planning. For example, you may discuss with them a theme or color scheme that will be used for this event. If you speak with your children about their birthday party and all the amusements that are waiting for them, you will create a delightful and festive atmosphere in your home. Your toddler’s emotional state really matters on this day and you must do everything possible to provide them with a good mood and excitement.

4. Let Others Help You

The process of the party planning is rather backbreaking and it takes you much time so that you can’t do it without the help of other people. If there is someone who will eagerly help you with cooking or serving, you should definitely accept this offer. Otherwise, when the party finishes you will feel completely exhausted and unable to smile and enjoy with your kid. You will benefit from any help that can be suggested to you, even if it seems very simple like pouring juice into glasses. Accepting help is not shame. Besides, you’ll have the same opportunity to assist other parents when they organize a birthday party for their toddlers.

5. Get Ready for Everything

A birthday party for your little ones may bring you a lot of surprises and you can’t be relaxed till this celebration ends. That’s why I advise you to get ready for everything. One way or another you will not avoid mess and spills in your flat. It would be better if you prepared all the tools that may help you cope with some unexpected things. Emergency supplies in your home will enable you to protect your kids in any hazardous situation.

6. Entertain Them

All parents should clearly understand that this is a party for their children and it is aimed to make them cheerful and happy. A great number of adults forget about their mission at this event, communicating with each other and eating cakes. When you behave this way your toddlers will be bored and even naughty. Interesting and entertaining activities prepared in advance are an excellent way to keep them busy. Those parents who lack imagination can simply play some merry tunes for their kids to dance. You’ll be amazed how quickly time passes.

7. Make It Short

As it has been mentioned above, time is the most crucial thing that must be taken into account when planning a party for toddlers. I think it should last maximum two hours if you don’t want to lose their interest and attention. During this time little guests will be able to have fun, eat desserts and watch your child opening birthday presents. Two hours is the best time for toddlers to feel comfortable and satisfied.

Planning a birthday party for your toddler requires time, responsibility and enthusiasm. For some parents it may turn out to be a real problem. By following these key steps you’ll throw the best party for your kid without stress and worries. What are the most effective ways you use to organize a memorable party for little ones?

Could the Internet Have Saved My Mom?

by Meagan Francis

The last time I spoke to my mother was on a early fall day in 1999. I remember the conversation well. I’d been avoiding her calls since my son Isaac, then five weeks old, had been born in late September, but that day I picked up in a rush of guilt.

The week after Isaac was born, the four of us — my husband and me plus our newborn and 2-year-old son Jacob — had moved from Michigan to Minnesota to follow my husband’s work. The move, combined with the new baby, had ramped up my mother’s anxiety, which lately had been manifesting itself in paranoia about everything from ATM cards (mark of the beast!) to income taxes. More often than not, she’d been drinking heavily by the time she called.

Sometimes, our calls were wonderful: funny, warm and punctuated with sound motherly advice. Other times she was angry, abrasive, irrational and combative. You just never knew which Mom you were going to get.

But that day, though I picked up the phone with gritted teeth and the tense shoulders known by all adult children whose parents are going off the rails, I quickly relaxed. Mom was coherent and upbeat, and we talked for an hour about the new baby, Minnesota and our holiday plans. Mom told me that she had signed up with a direct sales company selling home products; she sounded optimistic and excited. I offered to set her up a website, and she gratefully agreed.

I shared that I had been writing a lot and trying to get some pieces published; she told me that when she was younger, she’d loved writing and had shown promise. I’d never known that about her. After an hour or so, the baby woke up and I reluctantly ended the call, knowing it could be quite some time before we’d share a warm, friendly chat like that again.

And as it turned out, it would never happen again. A few days later, I got a call from my sister, who’d gone to my mom’s house and found her confused and manic. The paramedics thought she had carbon monoxide poisoning. By the time we made the 10-hour drive back to Michigan, she’d been sedated for hours, and we had a more accurate report of her condition: her organs were failing, one by one, due to cirrhosis of the liver. Ten days later she was dead, never having woken up.

Fourteen years later, it amazes me sometimes how much I have turned out to have common with my mother. Each of us gave birth to five children over a span of a decade or so. I enjoy the same kinds of books and movies and music she did, and her words and phrases slip out of my mouth so easily now that I have teenagers — even though it’s been many years since I heard her say them, they’re hardwired into my brain somehow.

But one thing that has defined my existence as a mother, has acted as a lifeline and a source of income and opportunities, has connected me with women and mothers across the globe and has acted as a lifeline during some of the darkest points of my life — including the time surrounding her death — is something my mother never had:The Internet.

When my mom’s third baby, Patrick, died of SIDS (then called “crib death”), my older brother and sister were just 4 and 2. My mother told me once, in one of her emotional moments trigged by a date with a jug of Ernest Gallo, that even as a Catholic, she had been embarrassed about being pregnant again so soon when she already had two small children.

She had a difficult birth, and confessed that she’d never thought Patrick was ‘right’ after it. She was exhausted for most of his early babyhood, and had never really enjoyed him, which caused her much guilt after his death. She also confessed that she had nobody to talk to after his death; that she came home from the funeral to find all his clothes and things packed away, that my father asked friends and relatives not to mention the baby — at all — to her. My sister, who was then 4 years old, remembers my mother trying to talk to her about Patrick, maybe because my dad wouldn’t listen. Twenty years later, she was still talking about him every chance she got… my dad, almost never.

I’m not exactly sure when my mother’s slow decline into alcoholism began, though it’s safe to assume Patrick’s death contributed immeasurably. Nobody talked about her drinking when I was growing up; not after my parents divorced, not even when the life she’d tenuously created for us began to crumble and fall apart. Not having been around for all those years leading up to my birth, it’s hard to separate her underlying demons from the alcohol-soaked expression of them I came to know so well. Even when she was “good” Mom — reasonably sober, productive, nurturing, quick-witted and funny — my mother seemed to me to be profoundly sad most of the time, for as long as I can remember.

I never experienced motherhood without the Internet. When I became unexpectedly pregnant at the age of 19, I used the university’s Internet service to research pregnancy and birth and baby care. By the time my son was a few months old in early 1998, we had a home dial-up connection and I spent naptimes and late nights chatting with mothers in forums, email lists and chat rooms. If I had a question, I always had someone to ask. If I was having a hard time, a listening ear was never more than a click away.

And as I raised my children, added more and struggled — with finding my groove as a mom; with divorcing (and eventually, remarrying) my husband; with going from being an at-home parent to a working parent to a work-at-home parent; with an unplanned pregnancy… OK, several unplanned pregnancies; with losing first one parent and then the other; and with all the indignities that come with the whole process of becoming a mother — those other parents were a lifeline for me. First the forums and email lists and chat rooms, later blogs, finally, Twitter and Facebook. And during that time, the Internet that had been a source of so much emotional and practical support also became a major source of financial support, as I built an online business as a blogger.

Almost a decade and a half after my mother’s death, the memory of her worse moments have grown softer and fuzzier, and I have been able to focus on the good parts of her life and her legacy. And while I miss her still, and know that at 55, she was far too young to die, I mostly feel sad not for the fact that she died too soon, but for the way she lived. Because my mother was, in so many ways, an amazing person who deserved better, but was unable to pull herself out of the darkness.

The other day I sat in a darkened theatre as many of my colleagues and friends were recognized for their work in the first-ever industry award event dedicated to parent bloggers and online content creators: The Iris Awards. It was a surprisingly emotional experience, acknowledging not just the nominees and winners, but the entire community.

And as I watched fellow bloggers accept awards, I thought about how different my mother’s life might have been if she had been born later.

What if, when faced with a rough postpartum experience and guilt over her difficult birth, she’d been able to reach out to Katherine Stone at Postpartum Progress?

What if, when experiencing the unimaginable horror of losing her baby to SIDS, she had been able to connect with other parents who had experienced the loss of a child, like Heather and Mike Spohr?

What if, after my parents divorced, she’d been able to find the resources and support she needed from moms who’d been there, like Jessica Ashley’s Single Mom Nation?

What if, when she found herself slipping into alcoholism, she had been able to read the words of Heather King at Extraordinary Ordinary and realized she was not alone and that she was strong enough to choose another path?

What if she’d found a place to laugh and connect with other women about the common experiences of motherhood at Liz Gumbinner’s Mom 101? Or maybe, even found a place to share her own story via a series like “What I Want You To Know” at Kristen Howerton’s Rage Against The Minivan?

Though my mother’s sadness certainly stemmed, in part, from the loss she’d experienced, I believe there was something else going on beneath the surface. My mom was sad not only because she’d lost, but because she was lonely. She wanted so badly to be understood that she drove the people around her a little crazy and eventually — as one by one, us kids left her home to move in with our dad — away. She drank and played her Harry Chapin albums over and over, and cried alone and in public, and church-hopped, because she was desperate to feel a connection to something, to somebody, to God, to the human spirit, to herself.

Yes, my mom drank. But I think her brokenness, the root of the problem, really stemmed from feeling disconnected.

These days, parents take a lot of flak for being online too much. We’re called everything from neglectful to egotistical for wanting to share our lives and our opinions and our struggles and our adorable Instagrams with the rest of the world. Parent bloggers are even more under the microscope: If we’re writing about our families and lives as a hobby it’s “selfish”; if we’re doing it for money, it’s “selling out.”

Of course, as with anything, there is a darker side to the online parenting world. But when I think about my mom, I wonder what a difference these relationships with a variety of other women across the globe might have made in her life. In our lives, too, my brothers’ and sister’s and mine. I know that it’s had an immeasurably positive impact on my life as a woman and a wife and a mother.

We all struggle. Most of us, at some point, fall down. But I truly believe that today, none of us need to feel disconnected.

Would the Internet have saved my mother? I can’t say, but I believe it has helped to save others like her.

And while it won’t bring Mom back, it gives me hope and confidence that what we’re all doing here, together, matters. The silly parts and the serious parts, the advice and the cries for help. We’re making a difference in each other’s lives. We can all be heard, we can all be known and we can all, all of us, connect.

Source: HP

Bad boys: Research predicts whether boys’ll grow out of it or not


Using the hi-tech tools of a new field called neurogenetics and a few simple questions for parents, a University of Michigan researcher is beginning to understand which boys are simply being boys and which may be headed for trouble.

“When young children lie or cheat or steal, parents naturally wonder if they’ll grow out of it,” says Luke Hyde, a U-M psychologist who is studying the development and treatment of antisocial behavior.

Hyde, a faculty associate at the U-M Institute for Social Research (ISR) and assistant professor of psychology, is speaking at ISR on November 11 on how genes, experience and the brain work together to heighten or reduce the risks that normal childhood transgressions will develop into full-blown conduct disorders in adolescence and early adulthood. His talk is part of the ISR Research Centre for Group Dynamics seminar series on violence and aggression, and is free and open to the public.

“The lifetime prevalence of conduct disorder is around 10 per cent, and even higher in males and low-income populations,” says Hyde. “The total cost to society is enormous, since these behaviours are often chronic, lasting through adulthood.”

With colleagues at U-M, Duke University, the University of Pittsburgh, and other institutions, Hyde has been exploring the role of the environment and biology as they interact over time to shape behaviour.
In particular, he is using the techniques of a new field called neurogenetics, which combines genetics, neuroscience and psychology, to learn how genes and neural processes interact with harsh environments, including dangerous neighborhoods and harsh parents, and with a child’s own levels of empathy and personality traits, to increase the risk of antisocial behaviour.

In one recent study, for example, Hyde and colleagues studied subjects with over-reactive amygdala responses. The amygdala is an almond-shaped part of the brain’s primitive limbic system involved in processing fear and other visceral emotions. It has been associated with impulsive, aggressive behaviour, as well as anxiety disorders and depression.

“Previous research suggests that the amygdala becomes over-reactive probably as a result of both genetics and experience,” says Hyde. “And once the amygdala is over-reactive, people tend to behave in an anxious, over-reactive way to things they see as a potential threat.

“Our study found that this tendency is moderated by a person’s environment, including the social support they get. If they’re not getting support from family, friends, neighbors, or professionals, then the link between the amygdala and anxious behavior is much stronger.”

In another study, Hyde and colleagues showed that kids who are impulsive are only at higher risk of engaging in antisocial behavior if they live in dangerous neighborhoods.
He also identified specific items within childhood behaviour checklists that can be used as early as the age of three to identify kids who will likely have worse trajectories for anti-social behaviour compared to other children who have similar behaviour problems, such as throwing tantrums.

These items assess observable behaviours that include whether the child is cruel to animals, doesn’t seem to feel guilty after misbehaving, is sneaky, lies, is selfish or won’t share, and won’t change his or her behavior as a result of punishment.

“The results of this test aren’t really meaningful until age three or three-and-a-half,” says Hyde. “Before that, many of these behaviours are fairly common, and don’t predict anything. But after age three, if children are still behaving in these ways, their behaviour is more likely to escalate in the following years rather than improve.”
There is good news, though. Kids who scored high on this test benefited just as much as other kids from interventions, according to Hyde.

These interventions, often called parent management training, focus on giving parents better skills to manage child behavior problems, including training parents to spend more positive time with their kids, use time-outs instead of physical punishments, and reward good behavior by giving out stickers.

“Parents need to know that intervention works, especially if it’s done early,” says Hyde. “They need to go for help if they see signs of trouble. Clinical psychologists, among other professionals, have empirically supported treatments that are quite effective for children, especially in this age period.”

Seperating Babies From Their Parents Is Stressful To Them

Nature has made them that way. Mothers don’t want to be separated from their babies.

Research published earlier this month shows that this works the other way too, separating babies from their mothers is stressful to them.

A team of US researchers measured the heart rate variability in 2-day-old sleeping babies for one hour each during skin-to-skin contact with their mothers. Next they measured their heart rates when they were alone in a cot next to their mothers’ bed.

They observed that ‘neonatal autonomic activity was 176% higher and quiet sleep 86% lower during maternal separation compared to skin-to-skin contact’. This simply means that the babies heart rates showed signs of stress when they were removed from their mothers.

Dr. John Krystal, Editor of Biological Psychiatry, commented on the study’s findings:

“This paper highlights the profound impact of maternal separation on the infant. We knew that this was stressful, but the current study suggests that this is major physiologic stressor for the infant.”

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