Teaching Your Child About Safety

December 5, 2007

Living dangerously

Children think nothing of sticking their fingers into sockets, playing with matches and glass paperweights, or climbing onto windowsills. From the children’s point of view, they are just exploring the world around them when ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ kick up a big fuss over nothing. In their ignorance of the dangers associated with such activities, children think that it’s all fun and games. Parents can’t seem to turn their backs for a minute without them getting into some heart-stopping escapade. In such situations, the parent’s fear translates into yelling, punishing or even a good spanking. 

Giving the wrong message

Hard-hitting as these responses may seem, they fail to get the message across to children that what they have done is dangerous and that their parents are reacting out of concern. When you yell at your child for running across the road without looking, she does not realize that you are worried that she might hurt herself. She feels that you’re angry with her because she is doing something she’s been told not to do. If you punish her for trying to ‘iron’ her clothes in your absence, she may think she’s a bad person without comprehending the real reason for the punishment. Even worse, when you chase her around the house screaming at her to put down the kitchen knife, she may think that it’s great fun to play catch with ‘mummy’. It is imperative that you make her understand that certain activities are dangerous without squashing her zest for life and making her scared of her own shadow.

Tips on how to react

  • The cardinal rule when you find your child in a dangerous situation is not to panic. Stop him from doing whatever he is doing in a calm manner and then give yourself a few minutes for the adrenaline rush to slow.
  • Once you have calmed down, do try not to lecture or yell because your child is just going to turn a deaf ear.
  • Instead, make him think about the consequences of his actions without painting a scary picture. For instance, if he has run across the street without looking both ways you can put him behind the wheel of your parked car and ask him whether he can see the children playing in front. In this way, he will realize that drivers often find it difficult to see children.
  • Most children are fascinated by fire. If you forbid them to play with matches, you are just encouraging them to do just that. Thus, it may be a good idea for you to light a match and let your child hold it with your help. In case, he gets playful, the worst that can happen is that he will get singed by the flame, which will be an effective lesson for the future. 
  • Once you have done this, make it a standing rule that he cannot light matches unless you or your spouse is present.
  • Children are also drawn to water. Therefore, send your child for swimming lessons as soon as he is old enough. 
  • It is very likely that confronted with a situation where your child is in imminent danger, you will find it difficult to maintain your cool. All your resolutions will fly out the window and you may yell at your child or even hit him. If this happens, make it a point to apologize to your child and explain that you love him and that your reaction stemmed from concern.
  • All these steps are still no guarantee that your child is not going to do something dangerous. So keep matches, medicines, poisons, sharp and breakable objects away from your children.

How to Choose a Baby Name

November 30, 2007

Your new baby needs a name to begin his journey into life. Read about the serious business of choosing the right name for your baby.

Getting ready to bring a new baby into the world involves a lot of preparatory work. Your baby needs his own clothes, accessories, toiletries, toys, etc. One of the most important requirements though is his own name. Your baby’s name will identify him in a crowd and be a word which he will associate himself with for the rest of his life. Your child will not choose his own name. You, as his parent, will select it for him. With such an important decision to make for your child, deciding on a name for your baby should take into account the following factors.

Uniqueness

Would you like your child to have a rare and unique name? Remember that this name will then make him stand out in a crowd. This can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. He will easily recognize when he is being called. At the same time, rare and complicated names have immense potential for misunderstandings and mistaken pronunciations. Teachers and caregivers may unintentionally mangle your child’s name if they have difficulty speaking it aloud.

At the same time, do not give your child a name that is too common. Varsha regrets the name she gave to her son Anil. There were five boys with the same name in her son’s class at school. Everyone kept getting confused. For the entire year, her son would proudly introduce himself as Anil B whenever he met someone. Even at home, he would only respond if she called him by the same name.

A good tip is to go for a blend of rare and common names. If you have a common surname, consider giving your child a slightly unusual name to make it easier for him in school and later on, at the workplace. On the other hand, if your surname is uncommon, give your child a reasonably well known name.

Heritage

Your baby’s ancestry and religion is a big part of who he is. Many parents name their child keeping these parameters in mind. It is perfectly all right to choose to name your child after a god or religious figure. Many religions also have guidelines as to how to go about naming your baby. Sometimes, you may like a name that does not fit into the traditional category. Do not be disheartened. Perhaps you can use it as a middle name. Another trend that is catching on is to name a baby based on Numerology. This is believed to help the child achieve success as he becomes older.

Many families also follow a tradition of naming children after elderly or recently deceased members of the family. Some people also tend to name the first-born son after his father and then suffix the name with ‘Junior’. This creates a potentially confusing situation in the home. Merely calling your child Junior may seem fine at first but is that what you want him to be known as when he is thirty years old? It goes for choosing names of elderly family members. Your child will have to bear the brunt if you decide to stick him with a name that went out of vogue over fifty years ago.

Memories

Some names may be associated with bad memories. Hence, it is best to avoid using them for your child. The name you select may be a nice name but if you had a nasty colleague with the same name, think twice. Are you going to be reminded of him every time you call out to your child? If there is a possibility of that happening, then discard the idea of using that name. Both parents must agree on this subject. If either parent is uncomfortable with a potential name, drop it. At the same time, do not press your partner for an explanation as to why he does not like the name.

Do not be browbeaten by other people when it comes to choosing your baby’s name. After all, you are the child’s parents. Ultimately, it is up to you and your spouse to choose a name that both of you are happy with.

Tips on Naming Your Baby

November 28, 2007

Naming the new arrival in your family can be a trying experience. Here are a few hints to make your job easier.

Yashoda and her husband Gautam were overjoyed at the birth of their baby. They were deciding on their baby name. However, friends and members of the family soon swamped them with their suggestions. From parents to distant relatives, everyone had their own opinion. Gautam finally got so exasperated that he banned visitors from even bringing up the topic.

Naming your child can be a wonderful experience for both you and your husband. There is a special feeling when both of you sit down to pick out a name for the child you have created together. Choosing a name for your baby is also a serious decision. After all, the name you select will have an impact on your child and on you for the rest of your lives.

Think it Over

Always remember that your child has to live with his name for the rest of his life. Therefore, he should be named only after giving some thought to all the possible alternatives. Some parents like to wait until they have given birth before they think of choosing a name. Do remember that childbirth is a painful and exhausting process. In the moments just after you have given birth, are you sure that you are capable of taking a rational decision about your baby’s name?

A woman is usually not very aware of her thoughts just after childbirth. Besides, what sounds cute at that time might very well turn out to be a mistake later on. For example, would you want your child to go through life being called Honeybunch?

Try it Out

Another point to remember is to try out how the entire name will sound when it is called out. A good name is always easy to pronounce. This is not just for other people but also for the child himself. Put the name and surname together to see if it can be spoken out easily. Sometimes, the name and surname put together may come out as a garbled mess, especially if they have the same syllables. Make sure you choose a name that can be clearly spoken.

A good way of testing out a potential baby name is to stand at the doorway of the kitchen and call out the name loudly, a few times. Pretend that your child is older and you are calling him for dinner. Does the name make you uncomfortable? If yes, think about how it will sound if you shout out your child’s name while he is with a group of people. Select a name which both you and your child will be comfortable with, when you are out in public, a few years down the line.

Make it Short

Try to avoid choosing a name that is too long. Many parents give their children names that are three or four syllables long and are disappointed when other people shorten the name. If you give your child a long name, there is no doubt that at some point in his life, the child is going to have his name shortened. This sets a stage for your child to inherit potentially embarrassing nicknames. While a nickname need not remain with a person for the rest of his life, it could still put your child in a situation where he does not like his name. If you would still like your child to have a long name, pick one that is easy to pronounce.

Also take a look at your child’s initials. Many parents give their child perfectly normal and innocent sounding names until the initials of each name are put together. Then they discover that the initials spell out something embarrassing. Such initials could be used to tease your child during his school years and sometimes, even later on.

Finding a suitable name for your child need not be a harrowing experience. It just needs some thought and a little careful consideration.

We have a HUGE searchable database of cool and unique baby names with meanings – Hindu, Muslim, Sanskrit, Urdu, and Jain names based on mythology sorted by Hindu rashi and easy for foreigners to pronounce.

Pregnancy Scans

November 27, 2007

What is sonography? Sonography, Ultrasound, Scan – all terms imply the same thing.

Prior to World War II, sonar, the technique of sending sound waves through water and observing the returning echoes to characterize submerged objects, inspired early ultrasound investigators to explore ways to apply the concept to medical diagnosis. This principle of passage and reflection of ‘sound’ waves of higher wavelengths than what the human ear can hear, through media of different densities, is now used medically to visualise internal organs of the body.

What is internal sonography, and when is it required?

‘Internal sonography’ is the same as a ‘transvaginal’ or ‘vaginal’ scan. A thin probe is introduced into the vagina to enable better visualization of deeper organs. It is usually required to visualize the ovaries, early pregnancy or a pregnancy that is not in the uterus i.e., an ectopic pregnancy.

Does it hurt?

Most women do not find this painful but some discomfort is not unusual.

How many times should a pregnant woman get a sonography done during her pregnancy? When should she get it done?

Ideally, a minimum of three scans should be performed during the course of a pregnancy. However, this is subject to availability of resources and economical considerations.

The first scan is usually in early pregnancy, around 6 – 9 weeks, to confirm the location of the pregnancy, to find out whether it is a singleton/ multiple pregnancy, to confirm the presence of fetal heart activity and to confirm the age of the pregnancy to allocate an estimated due date. This is called the ‘early pregnancy’ or the ‘dating’ or the ‘viability’ scan.

The next scan should be performed between 11 – 14 weeks as by this time the baby is fully formed with a head, a body, two legs and two hands. If there are any major structural problems like non-development on the skull, limbs etc., these can be detected. This is also a very important scan to assess the risk of chromosomal abnormalities like Down’s Syndrome, in which mental retardation is a major component. This is called the ‘nuchal scan’.

The third scan is performed at 18 – 23 weeks. By this time, the baby is much bigger and structures like the heart, kidneys, brain, facial features etc. are better developed and van be well visualised. The aim of this scan is to ensure normality of all these structures, diagnose major and minor problems and arrange further investigations, counselling or follow-ups accordingly. This is called the ‘routine anomaly scan’.

The above three scans are the minimum recommended in a ‘low-risk’ mother in a pregnancy. Further scans, either in-between or later, will depend on the presence of any other problems either in a previous pregnancy, or in the present one. Some Obstetricians routinely request a ‘growth scan’ later in the pregnancy to assess the growth of the baby, placement of the placenta and the general well being of the baby.

There is no ‘maximum’ number of scans that can be performed in a pregnancy. The requirement of the scan should be decided based on the clinical scenario.

Natural Family Planning

November 19, 2007

Natural methods of family planning (NFP) do not interfere with a person’s health in any way like other methods of family planning do. Other artificial family planning methods may have long-term effects on your fertility, while with natural family planning, such effects don’t arise.

The pill, for example, has certain benefits but along with the benefits, it also has side effects. In addition, if you forget to take the pill, the chances of pregnancy are higher.

Condoms act as a barrier while making love, and tend to diminish pleasure. With natural family planning, this does not arise.

How effective is it?

This method of family planning is not 100% effective. In fact, the only methods of contraception that are 100% effective are:

1. Total abstinence

2. Removal of the ovaries

3. Castration

Vasectomy and tubal ligation have very low failure rates, and are almost 100% effective, but not quite. 14 out of every 10,000 vasectomies, 4 out of every 10,000 tubal ligations, result in pregnancies.

Do I need to have a regular cycle?

You need not necessarily have a regular cycle for this method to be effective, though if your cycle is completely skewed, you could consider another method of birth control. However, even if you are a little irregular, you can tell when you are ovulating because of the discharge of cervical mucus. Therefore, you can avoid having sex during this time. If you are regular with your period, natural family planning is 98% effective.

How can I tell when I am fertile?

As men are normally always fertile, this method of family planning depends on when the woman is fertile, and having intercourse when the woman is not fertile. So how can you tell when a woman is fertile? A woman is fertile when she discharges cervical mucus. The mucus has a consistency of raw egg-white. After ovulation, the mucus disappears. Other signs include a slight rise in a woman’s body temperature when she wakes up in the morning. This is best measured with a Basal Body Thermometer, as the rise is often just 0.5 degrees. She may also get a feeling called ovulation pain.

What advantages does this method of family planning have over others?

The natural method of family planning helps build the foundation for a better marriage, because a certain amount of healthy abstinence is introduced in the relationship. It also helps develop self-control. In addition, it is a method done and discussed together. Both partners keep a tab on the wife’s menstrual cycle, and both are involved in this method of family planning. By keeping a tab of the wife’s cycle, any irregularity can immediately be noticed, and the doctor can be alerted. However, if the pill is regulating the cycle, any health issues may go unnoticed.

Before practicing natural family planning yourself, you should consult your gynecologist for further information. Certain doctors are skeptical about the effectiveness of this method, as doctors tend to be of any natural methods. There are courses held throughout the world, which coach couples to practice natural family planning effectively. It must be remembered that this method not the rhythm method of birth control, and is more scientific and effective.

Smoking, Drinking and Drugs in Pregnancy

November 14, 2007

I have been a chain smoker for many years, how will it affect my baby

There is no evidence to prove that smoking before getting pregnant has any harmful effects on the baby.  However, heavy smoking during pregnancy, especially after the fourth month, could lead to miscarriages, premature and undersized babies, infant deaths, and physically and mentally deficient children. It is therefore recommended that mothers quit cigarette smoking as soon as possible.  If you are already 9 months pregnant and have still not stopped smoking, you should do so immediately, to preserve oxygen flow to the baby.   Note that there have also been instances where chain smokers have delivered perfectly healthy babies, but the odds are certainly stacked against them.

Is passive smoking also harmful to the baby?

Although not as harmful as direct smoking, passive smoking, (i.e. inhaling smoke when others smoke) is also harmful to the unborn child.  It is therefore advisable to stay away from smoke-filled areas.

What effect will alcoholic drinks have on my baby?

Contrary to popular belief, a few drinks during pregnancy generally cause no harm to the baby.  However, heavy drinking (5-6 drinks each time) during pregnancy can lead to serious complications.  Babies born to alcoholic mothers could be undersized, be mentally deficient, and have deformities of the head, limbs, heart, nervous system, etc.  Therefore, controlling your alcohol intake during pregnancy is essential.

I have been taking illicit drugs, will it affect my baby

Drug use prior to getting pregnant, seems to pose almost no risk to the baby.   Since the risk, however, increases with the progress of the pregnancy, if you are already pregnant, it is important to stop using any illicit drugs.  Marijuana use, even as infrequently as once a month during pregnancy, could lead to inadequate weight gain for the mother, severe vomiting bouts, complications during delivery and an undersized baby.  Similarly, cocaine use could also result in miscarriages, premature delivery, infant death, and many other complications.  Even an occasional use during the third trimester could trigger contractions and fetal distress.

Leg Cramps During Pregnancy

November 1, 2007

Why do we get leg cramps?

One of the most common reasons for developing leg crams is the increased weight on your legs. As your child and your tummy grow bigger, the pressure of holding up and carrying your baby around is felt most by your legs.

Another reason is that as your uterus expands, it puts more pressure on the nerves and veins that send blood to and fro from the heart to the legs.

It is also widely speculated in medical circles that an excess of phosphorous could cause leg cramps. This is because phosphorous hampers the body’s ability to absorb calcium. Although a certain amount of phosphorous is good for you, too much can lead to leg cramps. You do need to increase your calcium intake in any case when you are pregnant – just make sure you don’t increase your phosphorous intake as well. Foods rich in phosphorous include snacks, soft drinks and processed meats. However, leg cramps often occur even in women on high calcium supplements, suggesting that calcium deficiency may not be the cause. Another theory states that taking magnesium supplements help. Don’t take any supplements without first checking with your doctor.

Exercise

Even if you do have strong muscles, they may have weakened somewhat if you had been unable to exercise in your first trimester. As a result even reasonably fit women can expect to encounter episodes of cramps. If your doctor has not stopped you from exercising during pregnancy, do make sure you walk every day, if you are not doing any other form of exercise. Walking strengthens your legs, and improves circulation. Start with a half an hour walk, and work up to walking at least one hour everyday. Don’t slack off and be irregular. You could even try walking twice a day if you cannot devote an hour at a stretch.

Stretch

Stretch your calf muscles to keep them supple and prevent cramps. Stand around two to three feet from a wall, with your arms outstretched and palms pressed against the wall. Slowly, bend your elbows and lean forwards. Feel the stretch in your calves. Hold to the count of ten, and slowly release. Do this simple stretch a number of times during the day, and around 5 times before going to bed, every night.

Water

Many women stop drinking water at night during their pregnancy, for good reason. They don’t want to make frequent trips to the bathroom to urinate and have a disturbed sleep. A good night’s rest is important for mother and baby. However, do compensate this inadequate intake at night by increasing your water intake during the day.

Clothing

Wear loose clothing at all times. Don’t wear anything that may restrict blood flow to your legs.

Sitting

Sitting cross-legged is both easy and beneficial during pregnancy. This position improves blood flow to the legs. Sit cross-legged as often as possible. If you work on a computer, try and sit on cross-legged on a wide chair. Every morning, sit in this position and breathe deeply for fifteen minutes.

Congenital Diseases

October 31, 2007

When should I be worried about congenital diseases?

Your baby has a higher chance of having congenital disease if he falls in any of the three reasons given below.  Note that there could be many other reasons for congenital diseases also.

  • Congenital diseases in the previous baby
  • History of congenital anomalies in the family which are likely to be repeated
  • Maternal age is above 35, then there is a higher chance of the baby getting Down’s syndrome

How are abnormalities in the baby detected?

Down’s syndrome (more common in women over 35) and many other genetic disorders can be diagnosed by performing in-utero test.  The doctor will generally ask for an alphafeto-protein (AFP) test before asking the mother to undergo amniocentesis.  Once deformities in the baby have been diagnosed, the difficult decision of whether to keep the baby or terminate the pregnancy has to be made. 

Can birth defects be detected with regular blood tests?

Studies have shown that 90 % of birth defects cannot be detected through prenatal blood tests. In order to isolate the remaining 10 % of the identifiable birth defects, there are four main types of tests: amniocentesis, chorionic villi sampling, certain blood tests, like the Alphafeto-Protein (AFP) test, and ultrasound scans.

What tests can detect congenital diseases?

  • Triple test – Serum AFP, Serum Estriol, Beta hCG – in the first trimester
  • Ultrasonography in the first trimester (around 10-12 weeks) to look for any translucency in the neck region
  • Amniocentesis to get a complete genetic makeup of the baby

Back to Work

October 25, 2007

Numerous women around the world quit their jobs after having children. They want and need to be around their children, and their children want and need to have their mothers with them. However, once children start school and get involved in their own activities, mothers often start getting restless and long to re-enter the work force.

Going back to a previous job

If you already had a job with an organization, consider approaching the management to find out if they would be interested in re-hiring you. More often than not, your position would have been filled by someone else and they may not have any job available for you at the moment. If they do take you back, it may be for a different position – perhaps junior to what you were expecting.

Not many mothers relish the thought of going back to an organization they have been out of for a few years. For one thing, folks who were junior to them may now very well be senior. However, if that doesn’t bother you and you were happy there, it makes sense to give this a first shot.

Another organization

At times women try and apply for jobs at different organizations based on their past work experience and skills. They may then find that their skills have become outdated.

Call centers

Call centers have been the saviour of many women who want jobs, but do not have the necessary work experience. Since call centers often have in-house training, high skills prior to joining are not really required. You are however required to speak well, and are often required to have strong English. The good part about working in call centers is that the starting pay is relatively decent, and you can quickly get raises.

Disadvantages

There is limited scope for growth. Some people will definitely rise up the ladder, but there is not a lot of growth prospect for most of the others.

Workers are expected to work various shifts. So at times you may be required to get out at night and work until the next morning. This messes up your body clock, and your spouse may not appreciate the fact that he doesn’t get to see you as much as he likes – since you may be working when he has a holiday. Shifts keep changing however, and you will definitely be able to spend time with your family every now and again.

If you are not looking for a full time career, and just want a job to keep you gainfully occupied and provide some additional money, this may be suitable for you. If you do well, salaries can go very high, providing you with an excellent income.

Doing a course

Once you’ve decided to get back to work, it may be very tempting to grab the first job offer that comes along – but this may not be the smartest decision, especially if you are thinking of building a career. Consider taking up a course, perhaps even earning a higher degree. It will then be far easier for you to get the job of your choice. Once you are in a course, you will be surrounded by like-minded students and professors that can help put you on the right path, making it easier for you to enter or re-enter the job market.

Old Wives Tales

October 23, 2007

Old wives tales about pregnancy abound, and almost every pregnant woman is inundated by them. Even though you may not know the sex of your baby, you are sure to hear lots of people telling you whether you will have a boy or a girl based on the shape of your stomach, on the way you are carrying your baby, or on the position you had sex in when your baby was conceived.

How true are these old wives tales anyway? According to research conducted by Yale University, they are completely baseless and the tales are nothing more than fanciful rumors.

Baby’s Sex: If your stomach sticks out, it means nothing more than the fact that you have a small upper body, so your baby is pushing out since he has no where else to go. If you are carrying the baby wide, it is because your baby has positioned himself horizontally. If you are carrying the baby high, it is because your stomach muscles are not very strong; it does not that you are having a boy.

Child Size: A big belly does not mean a big, tall child. The tallest of people may have been born to women whose bellies increased almost imperceptibly during pregnancy.

Why then place so much belief in old wives tales? Essentially such sex-determination tales have a fifty percent chance of being right. So if you are pregnant and someone tells you that you are going to have a girl because you are carrying her low, and if you really do give birth to a girl, you will remember with amazement and wonder that your aunt had predicted your baby’s sex accurately and your own faith in the tail is bound to increase. But on the other hand if you give birth to a boy, you will forget who said what and no one would broach the topic again.

Increased Odds: Of all the old wives tales out there, this possibly takes the cake: “To get pregnant, stand on your head after intercourse. Gravity will ensure that the egg gets fertilized.” Well, you can stand on your head all you want. It is good for you, but it will not help you get pregnant. Simply placing a pillow under the pelvic region and lying down in this position for a few minutes after sex should give you the extra push that is needed.

Mother’s Pregnancy: Although women get many characteristics and physical attributes from their mother, their pregnancy normally does not depend on how their mother’s pregnancies were, unless of course it relates to a genetic disease. No, just because your mother had stretch marks does not mean you will have them too. If you look after your skin, moisturize it well, you just may be lucky and not develop any stretch marks at all! On the other hand if your mother had no stretch marks don’t think you will automatically escape them. Yes, if you take the benefit of your mother’s knowledge, like her, you too could get lucky!


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