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Family Planning & Parenting

Strength in Numbers – Multiple Birth Awareness Week

By | Family Planning & Parenting

Strength in Numbers – Multiple Birth Awareness Week

Man outdoors with three children

Parents of multiples face challenges that go beyond just an increased workload. It’s easy for families to become isolated and overloaded with the constantflow of tasks needed to look after more than one baby at a time. This year’s multiple birth awareness week focuses on the importance of the support network surrounding people who have welcomed multiple births. Here are just a very few of the challenges parents of multiple children face, and how you can help lighten the load.

 

Financial Pressure

Preparing for a new baby is an expensive time, and at each stage new items are needed. It makes sense that parents of multiples feel even more financial strain. Aside from needing enough items at each stage for each baby – all at once and without hand-me-downs from one to the other, many families need specialised items like prams and even cars to accommodate their new arrivals.

Guilt

Many parents experience guilt in the course of raising children, but parents of multiples can feel added pressure in this area. One baby might be more demanding or put on weight quicker, parents might not feel they are splitting their time evenly (especially if they have other children), and sleeplessness can make parents cranky.

Post-natal depression can be a real concern and bonding doesn’t always happen instantly – particularly if the babies have had a lengthy stage in hospital before coming home. Outside the home, parents rarely have the time to see friends or maintain a social life, and their relationships can be put under added strain, all contributing to feelings of guilt.

Isolation

It’s easy for parents of multiples to feel isolated, as simply leaving the house can become an exhausting ordeal. With the added pressure, it’s easy for parents to shut off. However, feelings of isolation and loneliness can also make daily life hard to bear, and the loss of freedom that most new parents experience is even greater with the added care that multiples require.

Exhaustion

Life with multiples very rarely has room for much downtime. Parents can struggle with the extra feeds, sleep routines, and nappy changes that they require, often on reduced sleep. Problems with feeding, sleeping or colic can make everyday life overwhelming. Rest time and even time to take a shower become precious.

How to Help

Any help you offer needs to be tailored to the family and to your relationship with them – if you don’t have much experience with babies, chances are they won’t call on you to babysit, for example. However, there are many areas that parents can be supported.

Any good quality baby items that you aren’t using, a shoulder to cry on, an offer to go out for coffee (on you!) to chat, suggesting that they have a quick shower while you keep an eye on the kids for a moment – anything that lightens the load can have a huge effect on the morale and stamina of stressed-out parents. Above all, asking if there is anything they need or need help with is a good strategy to make sure your support goes where it is needed most.

Raising multiples is a wonderful, rewarding task, but that doesn’t mean it is necessarily an easy one. A strong network of supporters can make all the difference to parents who are finding it tough.

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss support for multiple births –>

7 Tips to Ease Your Child Into School

By | Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, Lifestyle

7 Tips to Ease Your Child Into School

 

 

Starting school is a big moment for children, but also for their parents too! Your family life will experience changes, and preparing your child to start school before the big day arrives makes the transition easier on everybody. Here are some tips to help your child feel ready for this next big step.

  1. Practice basic skills.

Using the toilet independently, reading letters and numbers, recognising their name when written and being able to follow basic instructions are just some skills you might want to think about before starting school.

  1. Do a trial run.

Make arrangements to visit the school together and meet the teacher. Try to think about areas of school life that your child might find confronting – knowing where the toilets are, where they can play at lunchtime, how to get to their classroom, where they can get a drink of water and where you’ll be picking them up is a good start.

  1. Use resources.

There is a huge range of books available that deal with the topic of starting school in a positive and uplifting way. Whether you buy them or borrow from the library, reading about the subject together can make it seem less threatening. Many children’s TV shows also feature episodes where the main characters go to school for the first time.

  1. Make it fun.

Instead of seeing uniform shopping and buying school supplies as a chore, turn it into a chance to spend some one-on-one time with your child and get them involved in the process. Depending on their personality they might want to do a fashion show in their uniform, show their new purchases to other members of the family, or help decorate their new belongings.

  1. Know their level.

If they have previously been attending kindy or day-care, have a chat to the educators to see what your child has been doing. Most states make available online a list of basic skills they expect school-aged children to have mastered, although don’t panic if your child isn’t quite there yet – children learn fast! If you do have any concerns, their future teacher is a good person to speak to.

  1. Stay calm.

Children do pick up on their parents’ emotions, so try to keep your approach upbeat but calm – at least in front of them! While you definitely don’t want to focus on the negatives, for some children there is such a thing as too much enthusiasm. For most children it helps to approach the day like a fun adventure instead of a huge, life-changing event (even though you know it is!).

  1. Encourage communication.

School encourages independence – which is a good thing, but you need to know that your child will talk to you or a trusted adult if they are experiencing a problem. Start to practice communicating before they go to school. Open communication looks different for each family, but setting time aside for one-on-one chat about their day is vital.

It’s also important that you try to keep those talks as a safe space, where they don’t feel like they will get into trouble for sharing with you (within reason of course!). Setting up a habit of communicating about the small things will give them the opportunity to share any big things that might come up.

 

Gather people around you who can support you and your family during this time – join a parenting forum, speak to the teacher, try to meet other families going to the same school, or chat to people who have been through the process before. Soon the whole process will become routine, and you’ll be able to advise other parents in the same position.

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss your child’s health or development ->

5 Things to Consider Before (or During) Pregnancy

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Women's Health

5 Things to Consider Before (or During) Pregnancy

 

 

 

Whether you are pregnant now or hoping to become pregnant soon, you can start preparing your mind and body to grow your baby. Here are 5 areas you can focus on before or during your pregnancy to help give both you and baby the best pregnancy possible.

Exercise is important

Being pregnant and giving birth are physically challenging tasks. Exercise can reduce your risk of gestational diabetes and preeclampsia, lower your weight and improve your cardiovascular system. There are many misconceptions about exercise during pregnancy, but it’s very safe and healthy for most women. Do talk to your GP before changing your usual exercise plan, and avoid potentially dangerous activities (like horse-riding, for example).

Focus on nutrition

While people might try to get away with blaming their poor diet on “eating for two”, the truth is that nutrition before and during pregnancy is incredibly important. That doesn’t mean you can’t treat yourself on occasion, but try to make the majority of your diet feature healthy options. Some foods will need to be restricted (like caffeine) or cut out completely (deli meats and soft cheeses), so you might want to start reducing your intake now.  A prenatal vitamin that includes folic acid is also very important to the health of you and your baby.

Make a plan, but go with the flow.

Before falling pregnant or giving birth, you should spend some time researching pregnancy and birthing options and thinking about how you want them to go. That being said, an over-complicated or inflexible plan can be more stressful than helpful. Think about your main preferences, but don’t forget that pregnancy and birth are sometimes unpredictable. Make sure the people around you know what you want – but don’t get too hung up on everything going to plan. A happy and healthy Mum and baby should be everyone’s top priority.

Change your chores

Great news – there are jobs you’ll just have to pass on! Any jobs that involves potentially harmful chemicals needs to be given to someone else wherever possible. Avoid heavy lifting and climbing. Protective gloves will need to be worn and your hands washed up well after jobs that might put you into contact with bacteria, such as handling raw meat or gardening. Kitty litter needs to be completely avoided thanks to the risk of toxoplasmosis.

Don’t forget your own wellbeing

Whether this is your first baby or you’ve got little ones running around at home, your life is about to get busier. Take time for yourself now – whether getting pampered or just practicing some relaxing deep breathing, a calm Mum is more likely to be a happy Mum. Whether you need emotional, practical or medical support, don’t be afraid to ask for help.

 

Click here to book an appointment with a GP to discuss your pregnancy or getting pregnant –>

 

 

Infertility Awareness

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Women's Health

Infertility Awareness

Sometimes even well-meaning strangers can ask, “When are you having a baby?”  For some people, it’s more than just uncomfortable – it’s heartbreaking. Infertility is not something we often discuss in polite conversation, but it needs to be. One in six families is affected by infertility, and the issue should be discussed so we can all better understand the factors surrounding a private struggle that many people face.

Infertility is common.

Infertility is defined as the inability to conceive a child after more than 12 months of unprotected sex. One in six families are affected by either male or female infertility, or a combination of both. The World Health Organisation has predicted infertility to be the third most serious health condition in the 21st century, after cancer and cardiovascular disease.

Infertility affects both genders.

Males make up just under half of reported cases of infertility. One in 25 men is thought to have a low sperm count, and females over the age of 35 have a one in three chance of having issues with their infertility.

IVF is not always the solution.

There are many, many reasons that a family might struggle with infertility. Some causes are able to be addresses by looking at lifestyle, such as;

  • Frequency and timing of sex. There is a small window every month where conception is possible, and some couples can seek education as to the best way to monitor their chances of conceiving.
  • It’s not well known that many STIs, especially including chlamydia and gonorrhoea, can cause infertility issues. Once an STI has been diagnosed, the doctor can discuss where to go from there.
  • After the age of about 33, conception becomes more difficult. Consultation with a doctor can give you some options.
  • Some genetic factors negatively influence fertility.
  • Lifestyle choices. Alcohol, smoking and caffeine are all known to impact fertility. For some people, giving up these substances helps them fight infertility.
  • Weight and exercise. Being overweight and not exercising makes it much harder for the body to conceive. A healthy body can increase chances of conception.
  • Having all the vitamins and minerals the body needs is vital to healthy conception, especially if someone has a deficiency.

Approach the fertility discussion with sensitivity.

While it’s absolutely vital that fertility is spoken about, remember that issues around sex and conception are often private matters. Some people feel like they’ve “failed” if they can’t conceive naturally within a “normal” timeframe. It’s almost always better to focus on listening and supporting, rather than giving advice.

If you are struggling with fertility, or find yourself wondering if what your family is experiencing is “normal” – talk to someone. Almost every person who finally seeks advice about their fertility wishes they had started sooner. Your trusted GP is a great place to start, and they can refer you on if necessary.

Click here to book a GP to discuss infertility –>

Keeping Abreast of all Things Breastfeeding – 7 Facts You May Not Know

By | Children's Health, Family Planning & Parenting, Nutrition, Women's Health

Keeping Abreast of all Things Breastfeeding – 7 Facts You May Not Know

 

It’s World Breastfeeding Week, and the theme this year is “sustaining breastfeeding together”. Breastfeeding is actually a team effort – the research shows that mothers breastfeed more effectively and for longer when they feel supported. So, let’s get together and look at 7 interesting facts you might not know about breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding benefits mothers

It’s not just baby that benefits – exclusively breastfeeding can have a natural birth control effect for the first six months – but while it’s 98% effective, it’s not 100% failsafe! Breastfeeding also reduces the risk of breast and ovarian cancer, helps most mothers to lose baby weight, and reduces the risk of type II diabetes and postnatal depression.

Breastfeeding helps the budget

Breastfeeding can save a family hundreds of dollars a year. Even without the cost of formula, breastfeeding mothers avoid the cost of bottles, bottle warmers, sterilisers, and specialised equipment. Even mothers who pump their breast milk will not normally require as much additional cost.

Breast milk adapts to baby’s needs

Breast milk changes its nutritional profile as your baby’s needs change. Breast milk for a 1 month old is different to the milk a mother produces for a 6 month old. It can even be different from one day to the next – for example, the body will automatically add more water during hot weather to help baby stay hydrated.

Big breasts don’t mean better breastfeeding

Breast size has very little to do with how much milk is produced and stored. Breast size is usually determined by fat deposits, but it is the mammary glands in breasts that produce milk.

Breastfeeding helps with bonding

Babies are born with limited eyesight – in fact, they can only see 20 – 30 cm. That happens to be the perfect distance to see their mum’s face while breastfeeding. Breastfeeding also gives skin-to-skin contact, which is perfect for bonding with a new baby.

Don’t put the brakes on breastfeeding

Mums can still breastfeed during most sicknesses – in fact, it’s often better for baby. By the time you have symptoms, you have probably already passed on the infection, so it’s best to keep breastfeeding so your baby gets the benefits of your antibodies to help fight the sickness. You also don’t need to avoid a glass or two of alcohol – just wait at least 2 hours after each drink before feeding again.

Breastfeeding knowledge is built up over time

While many people think breastfeeding comes naturally, it can actually take some women time and effort to learn. It’s normal to need help. That’s why one of the major factors that determine whether a mother sticks with breastfeeding is how much support she has.

Not everyone can breastfeed exclusively, but the vast majority of women are able to when given support.  If you have any concerns or questions about breastfeeding or your baby, your GP can help or point you towards free specialist services.

You can click here to book in with a GP –>

Don’t Hold It In – Continence Issues and Why You Should Talk to Someone.

By | Elderly and aging, Family Planning & Parenting, Men's Health, Women's Health

Don’t Hold It In – Continence Issues and Why You Should Talk to Someone.

Continence issues are not a popular topic, but if there is no serious discussion, people who suffer in this area often feel alone and helpless.  The theme of this year’s Continence Week is “No laughing matter” – focusing on people’s tendency to laugh off continence issues as a joke, or to treat it as an inevitable part of ageing or childbirth. The truth is, continence is a specialist health issue with a range of treatments and management strategies. Let’s look at bladder and bowel control issues, and why we should be discussing them.

What is incontinence?

Incontinence is the word used for problems with bladder or bowel control. This could mean that a person accidentally loses urine from their bladder, or has accidental loss from their bowels – including faeces or passing wind. Problems can range from small, infrequent leakages to complete loss of control over the bladder or bowel. Over 4.8 million Australians have some loss of control over their bladder or bowel.

Who is at risk?

Bladder and bowel control problems affect one in four people. It is more common as people age, but these problems are not only limited to older people – many young people also have bladder or bowel control issues. Childbirth can also cause complications that lead to bladder and bowel control problems. Many people with poor bowel control also have poor bladder control.

Isn’t it just something that happens sometimes?

People like to make light-hearted jokes about incontinence, but the truth is that bladder and bowel control problems are a health issue.  It’s not a natural part of getting older or giving birth, and it will not get better on its own. Incontinence is an issue that needs medical help to manage, control or fix symptoms.

How can you treat or manage your continence issues?

People with bowel or bladder control issues can feel embarrassed to bring them up, but it is important to discuss them with someone who can help. Bladder and bowel control problems can be treated, managed or cured – you won’t know how much improvement you can make until you ask.

You can work on creating healthy habits to improve your bowel and bladder health by eating healthy food, drinking lots of water, exercising regularly, toning and exercising your pelvic floor, and by reviewing and improving your toileting habits.

Where can you go for help?

Your GP can help you manage and treat your bladder or bowel control issues, and can advise you on what steps you can take to improve your condition.

If you are uncomfortable talking about your bladder or bowel control issues in person, you can phone 1800 33 00 66 for confidential advice, or you can go to www.continence.org.au to find information, connect and share your experience.

Don’t live with incontinence issues – click here for an appointment today.

The weird, wacky and wonderful world of pregnancy – 6 changes to expect when you fall pregnant

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Women's Health

The weird, wacky and wonderful world of pregnancy – 6 changes to expect when you fall pregnant

 

Pregnancy causes major changes to your body – some you might be prepared for, and others that are completely unexpected. Here are six of the most common (and strange) symptoms to look out for when pregnant.

1 Shortness of breath

Your organs actually move around to accommodate a growing baby. That means pressure on your diaphragm, which is the band of muscle under your lungs that controls your breathing. If you can’t quite catch your breath, take it as a sign to slow down and put your feet up!

2 Bizarre dreams

High levels of hormones, intense emotion, and lack of solid sleep means that many expectant mums have vivid, memorable dreams. It’s hardly surprising – you’ve got a lot on your mind! Talk about your dreams with a trusted person if they’re bothering you, but remember that dreams are your brain’s way of processing this exciting new stage.

3 Need to urinate

Your bladder gets hit with a two-punch combo, with increased blood volume putting extra burden on the kidneys as well as downward pressure from a growing baby drastically reducing the storage space. Get ready to map out the public bathrooms whenever you leave the house.

4 Increased sense of smell

While perhaps not the most impressive of super powers, your sense of smell is likely to become noticeably improved! This sensory experience will allow you to smell a fast food restaurant before you see it, but might also be a leading contributor to the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness. You could try using a fresh-smelling scent such as citrus or mint, and then wait it out – most women are back to normal in the second trimester.

5 Clumsiness

Many women feel clumsy during pregnancy, and it’s not just the sudden change in size and shape. A pregnant body produces hormones that loosen ligaments and joints, which combines with the added bulk in front to confuse your sense of balance and coordination. Protect yourself with sensible shoes and extra mindfulness when moving around.

6 Cravings

Many expectant mothers crave foods (or food combinations) that they won’t touch once the baby comes. Some women even crave non-food substances, such as clay or charcoal – a condition called pica, which should be discussed with your GP. As long as your diet is healthy and well-balanced, it won’t hurt to indulge in the odd pickle-and-ice-cream sandwich, and it becomes a fun story to tell!

 

If you are concerned about any of your symptoms, remember to discuss them with your GP – you can click here to make an appointment »

8 questions about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety

By | Family Planning & Parenting, Mental Health, Women's Health

8 questions you might have about Perinatal Depression and Anxiety 

Are you a new or expecting parent? Have you had feelings of depression or anxiety? If so, you’re not alone.

 

What are the stats?

1 in 10 expecting mothers and 1 in 20 expecting dads struggle with antenatal (before child birth) depression. Additionally, 1 in 7 new mums and 1 in 10 new dads are diagnosed with postnatal (after child birth) depression each year.

 

And what about anxiety?

Unfortunately, even more new and expecting parents suffer from anxiety.

 

So what does this mean for me?

Adjusting to having a new baby is something that all parents should expect and prepare for. It’s usually a temporary adjustment, and might include some feelings of ‘baby blues’ for the first few days. So if you feel teary, anxious or moody during this time it’s not something to be overly alarmed by. But when these feelings last beyond the first few days and worsen, it could be time to reach out for help.

 

What should I be looking out for?

Keep an eye out for some of the common signs of postnatal depression such as:

  • Feeling like you’ve failed or are inadequate as a parent
  • Having a sense of hopelessness about the future
  • Having a very low mood that continues for long periods of time
  • Worrying excessively about your baby
  • Feeling scared of being alone or scared of going out
  • Feeling guilty, ashamed, worthless,
  • Feeling exhausted, empty sad and teary
  • Having trouble sleeping, sleeping for too long or having nightmares

 

What if I’m experiencing things that are scaring me?

In some situations you might experience thoughts that are confronting to you, such as leaving your family, or worrying that your partner will leave you. If you have these thoughts, or thoughts about self-harm or harming your baby or partner, please seek professional help right away.

 

Who can I reach out to?

Your family and friends.

Your GP – at HealthMint our GPs are particularly good at helping people through depression and anxiety. They take the time to listen and work through things with you to put you on a path to feeling better.

Phone services:

GLOW Clinic – a Perinatal Emotional Health and Wellbeing Clinic, which offers a combination of support.

 

What help is available?

Family and friends are the obvious go-to, but in some situations, just having a friendly face to speak to outside of your family can be a big help. So you may find that having regular visits with a good GP helps to alleviate your symptoms and make you feel relaxed and in control of your health. A GP can also keep an eye on your symptoms, and help you to determine whether what you’re experiencing needs further help. Together with your doctor you could explore things like:

  • Counselling
  • Group treatment
  • Medications such as anti-depressants
  • Developing support strategies
  • Diet and exercise
  • Yoga and mindfulness

So what’s the take home message?

You are absolutely not alone. There are people both within your immediate support network, as well as professionals that are ready and willing to help you. If this article encourages you to take the first step, then you are already a step closer to feeling better.

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