Pregnancy, Maternity and Health Tips for Expecting Parents

Love Sleep Play delivers content and articles about pregnancy, maternity, and the post natal care for your new baby

Study Suggests Long Terms Health of Babies Affected by Covid 19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on many people in a variety of ways, even babies. For babies born during the Covid19  pandemic, a JAMA study suggests, the log-term health problems has the potential to be lifelong.

The first three years of life are crucial for brain development in humans. But it’s not just the health of babies that it affected, but the interactions between babies, parents and other would be caregivers. Babies need to be touched, spoken to, swaddled, smiled at, played with, stimulated and loved. As they respond to those interactions, neural connections are constructed in the brain. Without those interactions, an infant's brain doesn’t develop and grow as it should.

A stressed out or depressed parent or caregiver may find it hard to find the time and energy required to give the child's brain the love, stimulation and attention it needs to develop. There are many studies showing that poverty, maternal depression and other factors can change the development of a child's brain forever.

 

Methodology

As part of an ongoing study of babies and their mothers, researchers from Columbia University studied the development of three groups of 6-month-old infants. Two of the groups were born during the COVID-19 pandemic; the mothers of one group had COVID-19, while the mothers of the other did not. The third group was a historical cohort (a group of babies who were born before the pandemic).

Mothers participating in the study used an Ages and Stages Questionnaire (ASQ-3) to record their babies’ development and evolution. The researchers noted no difference in the development of the two groups of babies born during the pandemic, suggesting that prenatal exposure to COVID-19 doesn’t affect development, which is good news. But babies born during the pandemic scored lower in gross motor, fine motor, and social-emotional development than the babies born before the pandemic. Examples of developmental tasks for babies in this age group are rolling from back to tummy (gross motor), reaching for or grasping a toy with both hands (fine motor), and acting differently to strangers than to parents or familiar people (social-emotional development).

 

Infant Development during COVID

It’s just one study, and we need to do more research to better understand this, but the findings are not really surprising given what we know about infant development. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a lot of stress — emotional, financial, and otherwise — for so many families. It has also markedly affected the number and kind of interactions we have with other people. Babies are on average interacting with fewer people (and seeing fewer faces because of masking) than they did before the pandemic.

Even though we need to do more research, this study should serve as a warning for us as a society. The children of this pandemic will carry scars forever if we don’t intervene now. We’ve already seen the emotional and educational effects on children, and we need to be aware of the developmental effects on babies too. The stakes are too high to ignore the research.

 

What Can be Done?

We need to find ways to financially and emotionally support families with young children. We need to be diligent, energetic and creative, and work every angle available. And even if our government can't help out enough and play a role, our communities and individuals must take up the slack.

And parents and caregivers of infants and toddlers need to know about this research — and ask for help. It’s understandable and natural for parents to think that babies are too small and unaware to be affected by the pandemic. But they are affected, in ways that could be long-lasting. Talk to your doctor about what you can do to help yourself, your family, and your baby’s future.

Photo by Filip Mroz on Unsplash

Countdown to Your New Baby

The outlets have been covered, baby clothes bought, car seat installed -- what’s left to do? In the final weeks before delivery, you may find yourself becoming restless. Instead of counting down the minutes, why not make the most of your time with these suggestions.

Rest up. Ask some new moms what they wish they had done more of before their baby arrived, and without a doubt, sleeping would be at the top of their list. Though ultimately rewarding, labor and delivery are exhausting, and you’ll need energy ad stamina to get through the process. Sneak in as many naps and morning sleep-ins as you can during the last few weeks of your pregnancy, or make an effort to head to bed at an earlier time.

Bond with your partner. Before your new baby makes his debut, and your time is consumed by feedings, naps, and diaper changes, take time to relish your last few weeks alone with your partner. Try taking a long weekend away together or find a nearby bed and breakfast or local hotel so you can play tourist in your own hometown. Make sure to check with your doctor before making any late pregnancy travel arrangements, in case your practitioner isn’t comfortable with you being far from home.

Finish baby prep. You might think you only have a few things left to finish up before your little one arrives, but now is the time to do it. While a new baby really doesn’t need much in her first few weeks, check to make sure everything is set up and ready to go. Don’t forget to sterilize bottles, put sheets on the crib, assemble the stroller, wash the baby clothes, and complete other tasks that you won’t want to deal with while juggling a brand-new baby. Once she arrives you’ll want to give her as much undivided attention as you can!

There’s a lot to do before your new baby arrives, but there’s no need to worry if you don't get to it all. The most important task in your last few weeks is take care of yourself so you can be a healthy new mom when your little one does arrive.

Photo by Beau Horyza on Unsplash

Insomnia When Expecting

There’s nothing worse than tossing and turning when you want to be fast asleep. Your mind is racing, the room suddenly feels hot, and the longer you lie awake, the more frustrated you feel.  Add to this an ever-expanding belly, back and neck aches, and the inability to get comfortable in any position, and you’ve got pregnancy insomnia. Here are four tips to help you go from restless to restful:

New mom insomnia tip #1: Get up and change your setting. If you find yourself wide-awake in the middle of the night, lying in bed may not be the best choice. Instead, get up and read a book, listen to some calming music, or do a mundane chore to help get your mind off the fact that you can’t sleep. Then, once you feel yourself getting tired, lie back down and try again.

New mom insomnia tip #2: Avoid bright lights. Even if you feel wide-awake, resist the urge to throw on a bright overhead light before bedtime. Instead, go to a room where you have a dimmer switch or a lamp with soft lighting, which will be less arousing and allow you to return to sleep more quickly.

New mom insomnia tip #3: Try guided imagery. Picture yourself in a quiet, relaxing scene. You may be lying on a warm, sandy beach, or strolling through fields full of beautiful, scented wildflowers. Now, visualize every detail of the scene. Imagine the sounds, smells, and textures around you. It may take some practice, but guided imagery can calm your restless or anxious mind.

New mom insomnia tip #4: Take a bath. If you’re wide awake and feeling so tense that you can’t fall back asleep, a warm bath may help get you back to a more relaxed state. A cup of warm milk or chamomile tea can also help soothe you to sleep.

With any luck, one or more of these strategies will do the trick and send you off into dreamland. Enjoy your well-earned night's rest.

Photo by Alexandra Gorn on Unsplash

New Dad Duty: How To Help Mom Post Birth

“Honey, I feel like you’re doing all the work,” I said, plopping down on the couch next to my wife as she breastfed our newborn, Henry.

A slow smile came across Caitlin’s face as she gestured to the tray of drinks and food that I’d carried upstairs. “Do you realize how much this helps me?” she responded. “I’m thirsty and hungry all the time, but so is Henry, and I can’t find even two minutes to go to the kitchen!” And then she stuffed a peanut butter sandwich into her mouth.

When we brought my son home, I felt that I wasn’t needed by Henry the way he needed his mother. But with one tray of food, I realized that I played a pivotal role as a new dad: my family’s provider and protector. Through my support and love for my wife, I could help my son be happier and healthier.

Here are six simple, everyday ways new dads can help your first-time-mom wife:

  • Help Her Recover: Childbirth is very hard on a woman’s body. Keep the fridge well-stocked with grab-and-go foods like yogurt and cut fruit, make sure she drinks enough water, and when you do cook meals, make double portions so she can snack on leftovers later.

  • Encourage Rest: Make a ‘baby station’ on the couch. Surround the new mom with pillows, blankets, snacks and drinks, and anything the baby will need. Encourage her to rest -- chores can wait. 

  • Be Her Bouncer: Your partner may not want others to play ‘pass the baby’ when she’d rather be bonding with her newborn. If she is trying to establish a breastfeeding routine, visitors can be particularly disruptive. She also may find well-meaning family members and friends’ constant advice to be annoying. She may be too tired or sore to handle it, so be sure to ask others for alone time when your partner or baby clearly needs a break.

  • Bond with Baby: Diaper changes and baths are amazing opportunities to bond with your baby -- and give your partner a chance to rest. Don’t wait for her to ask you to do these things; if you catch a whiff of a dirty diaper, be proactive and change the baby right away.

  • Get Her Out of the House: If your partner is able and willing to leave your newborn for a few hours, book her an appointment for a post-natal massage or a manicure. If leaving the baby isn’t a realistic option, give her an at-home break. Ask your wife’s best friend to come over with takeout, and do as much of the baby care as possible while the ladies catch up.

  • And Last, But Not Least…: Tell your her she’s beautiful. Tell her she’s a great new mom. Tell her that you’re amazed by everything her incredible body is able to do. Give her a hug, hold her hand, and gaze into her eyes. The little gestures mean a great deal to a new mother.

Photo by Jimmy Conover on Unsplash