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20 GAZETTE 5 January 2012

BabyBABY YOUR GUIDE

KidStuff A new and easy way to take temperature WHEN a child gets a temperature, his or her mood hits rock bottom. They become tired and weak, get grouchy and don’t feel up to much. Taking their temperature by inserting a thermometer in the ear, mouth or, even worse, bottom makes everything even worse. This is why there is now a thermometer, which can be placed like a ring on the parent’s hand. It is called Mother’s Touch and is available exclusively at DocMorris pharmacies. The clue is in the name: by touching the child’s forehead, parents can determine whether he or she has a fever. This new thermometer is every bit as accurate as the more invasive models: after only six to eight seconds, the Mother’s Touch will reliably show the child’s body temperature. Taking a temperature is so easy and unobtrusive with this innovative device that young patients hardly notice it. It is operated simply and conveniently via just one button and a large display. An audible fever alarm gives parents additional certainty, and the previous measurement is also stored automatically so that users can see whether the child’s temperature has risen or fallen. Mother’s Touch is a practical alternative to invasive thermometers and is not just ideal for new parents. Teachers can also use it to quickly determine whether a child in their care has a fever. The thermometer costs €17.99.

TO EVERYTHING FOR YOUR BABY

Being mindful of baby blues at a joyous time ALTHOUGH the arrival of a new baby is usually a joyous time, it can also be a period of huge adjustment and stress as new parents are faced with major changes to their lifestyle, finances and their relationship. Many new mothers can feel overwhelmed in the initial days after giving birth, which is normal and to be expected. However, some feelings can continue and progress resulting in post natal depression.

What to expect post-birth According to Dr Abbie Lane, consultant psychiatrist, Saint John of God Hospital, Co Dublin, it is perfectly normal for new mothers to go through a transitional period postbirth, where they feel highly emotional, weepy, stressed and vulnerable. “About 80% of women will experience these emotions during the first few days, normally between the third and tenth day post-birth. This is the period commonly known as The Baby Blues,” Dr Lane says. “This period should subside after a number of days, but, for some, the feelings can continue and develop into post natal depression. Post Natal Depression “Post natal depression is very common and about 15% of all mothers will experience it,” explains Dr Lane. “The most common features are feelings of anxiety, inability to cope, loss of enjoyment and motivation, tearfulness, sometimes irritation, worry about your child and a feeling of despondency and the inability to look forward to anything. Sometimes women can feel worse at

a particular time of the day – for example, first thing in the morning or in the evening time. Many women feel confused and anxious and worry that they are unable to enjoy their baby or the experience and that they are not ‘good enough’ as mother’s and this can lead to feelings of shame and worry.” Mothers may not recognise that their mood is low and that they are depressed even though post-natal depression is the commonest health problem associated with pregnancy.”

Anxiety New mothers can also feel a heightened sense of anxiety and worry about the health of her baby, often not wanting to be left alone with the baby for fear of him/ her coming to harm. Mother’s might worry that the baby will stop breathing, or choke or that she might drop him or her. This anxiety and fear can become more intense when a husband/ partner has to go back to work and the mother is left alone all day with her baby. Sleep can be disturbed and many mothers describe tiredness and exhaustion over and above what would generally be expected with a new baby in the house These symptoms can come on immediately after giving birth or develop gradually in the weeks and months after. Symptoms According to Dr Lane, a support network makes a huge difference and this can come from friends and family, or from community nurses or the medical team. While a lot of this is covered in ante-natal classes and there is good informa-

tion available on what to expect when pregnant, or after delivery, it helps if all mothers and partners know that post-natal depression is a common illness after giving birth so that they can be alert to the tell-tale signs: O Anxiety and seeking reas-

surance O Depression O Irritability O Tiredness and exhaustion O Fearful – not wanting to

be left alone with the baby, overly concerned about the baby’s health O Sleeplessness O Appetite Disturbance – over- or under-eating O Loss of enjoyment O Tearfulness O Feelings of guilt O Loss of memory and concentration O Loss of confidence and self esteem

Thoughts of self-harm, dying or suicide are very important and need urgent medical review. Consultant psychiatrist at St John of God Hospital, Dr Abbie Lane

Where to get help Doctors and the general public are very aware of postpartum depression today so there is no need to suffer in silence. Public health nurses are often a great source of support for women suffering from PND as are local GPs who may recommend counselling or a course of medication such as anti-depressants which are non-addictive. PND support groups are also a great help to many women also. Being aware of the symptoms and identifying the depression early can both help with a speedy recovery.

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‘Doctors and the general public are very aware of postpartum depression today, so there is no need to suffer in silence’ -------------------------------------------------------O Accept help from friends

and family – learn to say ‘yes’ O Consider attending a support group, or becoming a member of an online support group O Exercise each day – a quick walk each day will help O Try and keep stress to a minimum O Be sure to maintain a healthy diet, especially important if breastfeeding O Try and get some time on

Tips for new mums O Talk to someone about your

your own also on a regular basis

worries – do not keep feelings bottled up inside O Try and sleep when the baby is sleeping

Advice for Partners Often a mother is unaware that she is suffering

from PND and puts her feelings down to the new change in lifestyle. Many women do not share their thoughts and feelings for fear of being seen as a “bad mother” or unable to cope. “Support, both physically and emotional from friends and family, is so important,” says Dr Lane. “They are often the first ones to notice a change and address the problem.” Dr Lane offers partners the following advice: O Try to help out so that there

is ample opportunity for both mother and baby to catch up on much needed sleep O Try to keep up ‘couple time’ – go for a walk, get a babysitter, make use of offers from family and friends to mind the baby, do housework or cooking O Encourage attendance at GP or local community group O Be patient O Seek out information on PND to try to best understand what is going on O If you have children, explain to them what is happening

Dr Abbie Lane is a consultant psychiatrist at the Saint John of God Hospital, a leading provider of mental health services and treatments in Ireland. See w w w.stjohnofgodhospital.ie for further information.

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