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Weird Pregnancy Behaviors Explained

Much recognition is given to visible pregnancy symptoms. Like nausea for example. They physically see you puking so they don’t question the legitimacy of your suffering.  But what about pregnancy brain, where you can barely remember what you’ve said seconds ago, or cravings, or moodiness, or the nesting phenomenon, where at 37 weeks, you get an inexplicable surge of energy and motivation to spring clean your entire house, prune every single bush in your garden and sanitize every doorknob and light switch in sight.

pregnancy, research, behaviours

Now I have set out on explaining these behaviors so they can finally make sense to us all.

 

Pregnancy Brain

Research done by MRI scans at the University of Barcelona shows that women lose grey matter during pregnancy and that activity is heightened in areas associated with picking up emotional cues and needs of others – more specifically – our children. (This, however, has no measurable effect on our memory or cognitive abilities.)  Ever wondered why you know exactly why your newborn is crying and what he needs when your husband seems to be oblivious? God rewires our brains during pregnancy to be more attuned to our children, but be less attuned to the rest of the world, or even to our own needs. We don’t simply just forget things, our priorities change, on such a deep level that it can be seen on brain scans!

A decrease in the production of neurons in the hippocampus (area of the brain responsible for memory) has been observed in pregnant mice, but those who exercised regularly showed no disposition to virgin counterparts. We might not be mice, but it might just be worth it to hit the gym every other day!

 

Moodiness

When your brain is flushed with pregnancy hormones, it directly impacts the level of serotonin and other mood-regulating neurotransmitters in your brain. The same can be observed when we are severely pms”ing.  As our hormone levels fluctuate, so do our neurotransmitters and so does our mood.

Serotonin deficiency can make you feel that you are not coping. With anything, whatsoever.

Not the best position to be in with a toddler on your hip and a baby in your belly.

Remember that this is too, is completely normal. Taking Omega 3 Oils, probiotics and doing exercise can go a long way in keeping the rage under control.

 

Nesting

Research done at McMaster University in Canada found that it is a built-in urge to prepare for and protect your unborn baby. They also found that during this time, pregnant women are more selective of the company they keep. This is often also accompanied by not wanting to leave the house later in pregnancy. We revert right back to our mammal instincts before our babies come!

Sources: Scientific American, Molecular Psychiatry , Mood swings during pregnancy, Nesting and Cleaning,
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Surviving as a Mother, Wife and Career Woman

Growing up, I remember my mom being home with us all day, with no care of keeping an employer happy.  She only had to concern herself with her family life and to keep us healthy and educated. She spent the mornings on Bible study and when we returned from school, we studied for tests and did homework together. These are fond memories…
But times have definitely changed and most mothers are now working outside of their homes, helping to provide financially. One is tempted to procrastinate against being taken out of your house, having to work and be a mutual breadwinner for the household. Suddenly, the roles between husband and wife are foggy and conflict arises. One even dares to think this is outside of God’s plan for mothers.
 
When we go back to what the Word has to say about the example of the perfect mother or housewife, a picture is painted of A Wife of Noble Character. Of a business woman; farming, buying, selling, working outside her house and keeping busy until the wee hours of the night to ensure that her family is comfortable and provided for.
This means that God has built us for this task. We should be able to keep it all together. To be the seductive wife, patient mother and an ambitious career woman. This almost sounds unattainable. Well, rather, unattainable with your sanity intact!
Why is it such a struggle for us then? Why do we feel that we are on breaking point every other day? I was overwhelmed by a sense of failure and discouragement. As soon as I was able to remember everything my son needed for school and gave him his medicine on time, then things started falling apart at work, or my husband notifies me that I have been…well… less than attentive! Out of frustration, I usually snap at someone I care about. I think it is just a mommy trait to want to do everything perfectly for everyone.
We need to be sure that we are focusing our energy and resources on the things that are really important to us, God and our families. Otherwise, we will inevitably burn out. Take time alone to get to know your values. Write them down and evaluate what portion of your day is spent on these things.
Set clear boundaries and teach yourself to say no. De-clutter your house. Chuck everything out that you don’t use or need. You will be surprised how much clearer you are able to think and go about your routine if everything has a place and your house is tidy.
I am learning not to strive for sheer perfection. I always end up disappointed. Our faith is founded on Grace, not our own achievements or perfection. My aim is to be better than yesterday. If I mess up and feel like I just want to hide away and cry, I remind myself that God’s Grace is new each day. Tomorrow you will have a chance to do better, having learned lessons from what went wrong today.
Make a list of each hour of the day – you will be surprised at how much time we actually have at our disposal. Next to each hour, write down what you usually do during that time slot. This will open your eyes to the power you have to take control of each day by making each hour count.
Plan ahead. Every night before I go to bed, I pack my son’s bag for school the next day. I select our outfits to wear to school and work. You never know what unforeseen moments the next morning might bring. Being prepared brings me a sense of calmness and clarity.
Discuss your challenges with your partner, we decided that while I do my makeup in the mornings, he gets our son ready for school. This really takes the edge off mornings!
Motherhood is just one of the many examples showing that God wants to journey with us, He wants to hold our hands and make us strong when we feel we can’t do this anymore. He reminds us that we are doing His work on earth, preparing His little children for the tasks He has planned for them. God will not let you do this on your own.
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Jurgen’s Morphine Experience!

So this is what our little family was up to Saturday night…

This one having a ball on Morphine after yet another ear infection.

Rushing to Wilgers Trauma (I’m sure the other cars on Lynnwood Road must have thought I was in labor), we were worried sick; he didn’t stop screaming- and then this happened.

Apparently there will always be a bright side with toddlers! 🙂

#icantfeelmyface!

 

All Good again!!

 

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How to Get Toddlers to COOPERATE !

Let’s face it. It breaks you from the inside having to shout to get a reaction from your child. Okay, sure. Honestly – it happens sometimes. We do lose it sometimes!!

My son just bursts into tears and I get nothing from him until after we’ve had a good cuddle. So I have gathered that this is probably not the most effective course of action!!!

 

 

MAKE IT A GAME

When we make it a task, a challenge, a game – or a goal to be reached, then he is all over it!! Sometimes it is a struggle to get the most ”routine” things done. Like getting dressed. He will just decide, today, dressing me is child abuse!! If we become silly and make getting dressed a game, it is almost always received with giggles!

Every time he takes his vitamins, he claps his hands and says “Daaaah!!!” Even in the middle of the night if he has to take fever meds :'(

Every night before bath time – We start by packing his toys into the box, soon enough he will join in and show us how much quicker he is able to get it done!

GIVE THEM REACTION

Toddlers will always do whatever pays off the quickest and gives them the most adverse reaction! At the end of the day, what they crave, is your attention. If you only react when they are naughty, that is what they will stick to!! Keep reprimands low-key, and keep praises over the top!

MAKE THEM FEEL GROWN UP

If Jurgen has an item in his hands which we are unsure if it could hurt him, or get damaged, my husband enthusiastically asks him to give it to Mommy, or Granny. He suddenly has something to do with that item which will make him eligible to look all grown up and get recognition!! Incentivise!!!!

Children differ, what works for one of your kids will possibly have the opposite reaction in your next child. We need to appreciate the fact that God made them so precious and complex, each child brings the adventure of discovering how to understand them – this is what makes parenting so exciting and rewarding 🙂

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Why Breastfeeding Blows my Mind!!

After my son was born and I started to research breastfeeding, I fell in love with God even more. He thought of everything!! Apart from the mind blowing health benefits, what had me on board from the get go, was the milk on tap! Warm and ready to drink! 🙂  Perfected to their needs, according to their age and the time of day. If all else fails to calm their wrath, whip it out and there you go. Coma inducing, eye rolling, contentment. Bliss. A sleeping, satisfied baby !

When your baby nurses, the hormone oxytocin is released. Scientists call it the love or bonding hormone. It makes you both relax and bond. Mommy and baby chemistry!! This same hormone also makes your uterus contract and eventually shrink back to its original size. Isn’t God amazing?!

Boosts immune system by supporting healthy gut flora

Newborns have a virgin gut. This basically means that their tummies are almost sterile and the gaps in their small intestine are big enough to allow pathogens to enter the bloodstream. This is why it is so important to exclusively breastfeed for the first six months. Not only does breast milk introduce the good kind of bacteria, but it actually feeds the good bacteria and kills the bad ones!! Healthy gut flora is instrumental to a strong immune system. To further blow your mind, read this post on the importance of Breastfeeding and healthy gut flora! :   The Alpha Parent : The Virgin Gut

Bum cream – who knew?!

Because breast milk is packed with all of the good kinds of bacteria, it also sorts a nappy rash like nothing else.

combats cancer

Breastfeeding drastically reduces your risk of ovarian and breast cancer. The longer you nurse, the smaller your risk of cancer will be.

custom made

Your body can sense your baby’s age, whether he is sick, hot or cold and adjusts the composition and temperature of your milk accordingly. The composition will even be different at different times of the day.

day / night regulation

Newborns don’t have their own established circadian rhythm. This means that their internal clocks aren’t telling them when it is night or day or when to sleep. A mom’s milk contains more melatonin in the evenings, which regulates the circadian rhythm and helps them sleep better at night!
I personally think we don’t know half of what there is to know about breastfeeding. It remains a miracle in my eyes!!

Update

I have since been approached by Reviews.com to have a look at the research they have done on formulas as an alternative to breastmilk.
Having to decide on the right formula, when breast feeding is not an option,  can be somewhat of a minefield with the overflow of information and opinions online.  They have made fact based recommendations, taking into account factors such as protein sources, probiotics, and additives ranging from Omega-3 fatty acids DHA, ARA, lactoferrin, MFGM (lipids that support cognitive development).
CLICK HERE to see what they recommend!
Another great resource is the ‘The Babble Out’, with research done aimed at formulas easier on babies who are prone to gas and lactose intolerance. To read what Zoey Miller has to say, CLICK HERE.
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Surviving Teething

Teething is a nightmare for pretty much every mom I’ve met!

It makes your kid grumpy and moody.
Try and think back to when your wisdom teeth came out. Your head was aching, your neck was aching, everything just hurt and everyone was in your way.

Normal inflammation from teething usually causes a low grade fever of about 37.5°(99.5 F).

If a fever rises above 37.5°(99.5 F) it can be  from a secondary infection, like ears or tonsils. These are common complications from teething!
Then it is best to head over to the doctor.

Many say fever is natural and necessary. I agree to an extent but a fever of 39° – 42° (102.2 – 107.6 F) is dangerous. Babies get sick very quickly. I’ve seen our son go from 38° to 40° (100.4 – 104 F) in under an hour. If your baby is under 6 weeks old and has a fever, rather take her to the doctor.

My old faithfuls for higher fevers are anti-inflammatory meds (eg. Nurofen, Ponstan or Voltaren )
and Paracetamol (eg. Panado or Empaped).

If you gave anti-inflammatory meds such as Nurofen, you can give Paracetamol 4 hours later, vice versa. But Paracetamol should only be given eight hours after the previous dose of Paracetamol, the same goes for anti-inflammatory (ibuprofen). Sometimes when my son is very ill the only thing that I have found breaks a fever is Voltaren – which is also anti-inflammatory.
Remember, ibuprofen can only be given after babies are 6 months old.

Never give aspirin to a baby or toddler.

Teething babies should always be closely observed as symptoms are easily chalked up to teething while there might actually be something else seriously wrong.

Using an over-the-counter local anesthetic like Dynexan or Cerene teething powder on swollen gums also really helps quite quickly.

Drench a clean washcloth in purified water and put in the freezer. It helps to gum down on something cold.

Breastfeeding is a great way to ensure that they still get the nutrients they need when they don’t want to eat. It also soothes and comforts them. Momma’s milk is the solution to most problems. Just beware of biting! ! They tend to do so when teething.

Always offer enough clean drinking water when they have a fever. Even when they are not thirsty. If your sick child is hydrated, the race is halfway won!

Remember to keep their faces moisturised as the constant drooling tends to dry out sensitive skin.

Disclaimer : I am not a medical practitioner and this is mommy to mommy advice which should not substitute any medical advice to treat or prevent any condition. Remember that ibuprofen is a strong medicine and can cause stomach ulcers with prolonged use. Use these meds sparingly and only when discussed with your pediatrician. You are encouraged to verify this information with other sources. Do not delay seeking medical help having read anything on this blog. Follow your God given mommy instinct, more often than not it will guide you in the right direction.

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Happy Mother’s Day!

This week I prayed asking God what is on His heart for Mothers on Mother ‘ s Day this year. These truths gave me some perspective on the phenomenon of Motherhood.

 

Knowing God created us in His likeness, we can take comfort and awe in the fact that a big part of His nurturing, caring, protective nature is invested in the hearts of Mothers. When we conceive or adopt a child, something supernatural happens in our being. A transformation of values, beliefs and instincts. We become equipped! All of a sudden we care about healthy foods, good or bad influences and we instinctively reconsider each life choice with our little pandas in mind.

We are reminded that we are shaping someone’s husband or dad, or mother or wife!! Daily we are dealing with the future of our children’s families.

What an honour.

My mother – in – law thought me that being a good mother, doesn’t mean , you have to pamper and spoil your children, but rather to equip them to survive on their own. Raising children means preparing them for whatever life may throw their way. Teaching them how to handle rejection and disappointment in a constructive manner and empowering them to take the lead in life and make things happen.
We need to place our children in God’s care and entrust them to Him. He loves them even more than we do! We are responsible for them, but ultimately they are in His hands. The single most important thing we can do for our kids is to pray for them, to place them at God’s throne everyday.

Enjoy the privilege of being a mother, be free of worry and remember God has instilled within you with everything you need to be exactly the kind of mother your child needs.

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The Hospital Bag

Firstly, read up a lot! I ended up packing and repacking four or five times before I was admitted as the closer you get to the date, the more you ‘know’ what you’ll need!

 

Usually, the hospital will provide you with a list of what to pack and also a list of what they will provide. I have found that you should pack of what they provide as well – as it’s hardly ever enough.

There are so many lists available with obvious items like diapers and breast pads, so I’m only going to mention things that stood out for me.

  1. At least 5 long sleeve baby grows. Even in warm weather, a newborn gets cold in air conditioned hospitals. They are used to being inside the womb so the more they are covered, the better.
  2. Enough receiving blankets. This is essential. As mentioned above, they are used to being in your tummy so being wrapped in a blanket makes them feel secure. There will be a lot of messes, so having enough blankets just makes things easier.
  3. Pack a breast pump. Within about two days of your baby being born, your milk will come in. You had milk before, but when it comes in, you will know! You will produce much more milk than your baby needs and your breasts might be very swollen and tender. I do not advocate that you should express until empty, just very little for relief. If you pump too much, you will overstimulate and you will end up producing even more milk. It’s also important to not express milk right before your baby feeds as they need the watery milk that comes first. It’s like having a drink of water before the creamy milk comes 🙂
  4. Snacks. Your body knows that as soon as your baby is born, it’s time to produce milk. I have never experienced hunger and thirst like I did when my baby was born. Pack drinks with electrolytes and sustainable carbohydrates like oat bars. It’s important to pack otherwise you will end up eating unhealthy snacks. I drank Powerade and lots of water as well.
  5. Pack for mommy. Remember that this is a special time for you. This is the most important day of your life, the one that will change you irrevocably and a day which you will treasure forever. Pack soft luxury towels and face cloths for bath time. Pack a rich moisturizer and a lightly scented body talc. (Not too strong as babies are very sensitive to smell.) Buy two sets of new button up pajamas and blow wave your hair. It makes such a difference if you feel good!
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What I Wish I knew before my first Pregnancy

For most of us falling pregnant is overwhelming; especially when it is your first time! You have no idea what to expect and even less of a clue of what is expected of you!

Here I have listed a few things I’ve learned and wish I had known even before I fell pregnant.

  • Invest in a good maternity shake. One for pregnant and lactating women. I personally used Similac Mom and found it to be delicious! This gave me the peace of mind that even though you are probably not eating well during pregnancy because you want to throw up all the time, you are ensuring that you are getting the daily nutrients you should. I had it daily during my pregnancy and after night feeds when breastfeeding. It was a lifesaver!
  • And a Multivitamin! I used Preg Omega. Three pills daily. The one is a multivitamin, one is calcium (and other minerals) and the other one contains Omega 3 Oils. This is vital for your baby’s brain development and your mental health. One should remember that your baby will take from you what he or she needs. They will literately take the calcium from your bones and leave you brittling away. So to ensure that there is enough for your baby and at least something left of you, please take your vitamins!!
  • Don’t eat all of the fruit you can lay your hands on. Ladies. Fruit is healthy, yes, but it is packed with sugar!! The same goes for fruit juice. You only need a certain amount of sugar and your body will generate that from whole grain, sustainable, Low GI carbs. The key is to not eat more than 2 fruits per day. Choose a fruit like banana which is rich in folic acid and full of vitamins. If you stick to protein, two fruits per day and wholegrain carbs while drinking your vitamins, your baby will do just fine and you won’t gain unnecessary weight. (You will gain 5 kg as a reserve for you to be able to breastfeed and your baby along with water retention will be about 7kg. So it is reasonable to expect to gain about 12 kg.)
  • Avoid Feta and soft fermented cheeses. Any raw meat like deli meat and salmon sashimi should also be avoided. Reason being that one could contract an infection from the Listeria bacteria which could be fatal to your baby. It is said that pregnant women are 20 times more likely to contract Listeriosis.  Note that cottage cheese, cream cheese, and sour cream is perfectly safe choice during pregnancy.
  • Eat eggs and red meat in moderation and avoid liver as this contains high volumes of Vitamin A. Too much Vitamin A can negatively impact your baby’s development. Your body can absorb too much Vitamin A from animal sources like eggs or red meat. Somehow your body only absorbs the Vitamin A it needs from plant origins. So it is safer to stick to those. (e.g.Carrots, spinach, butternut and sweet potato.) Some anti-ageing products also contain Vitamin A derivative of animal sources so it is best to steer clear of these products during the first, second and third trimesters.
  • Don’t detox during pregnancy or while breastfeeding! Babies are then exposed to the toxins your body releases.
  • Only eat fish which is low in mercury to avoid mercury poisoning. About 2 to 3 servings of fish per week will be perfectly safe and will provide nutrients essential to you and your baby. Large predator fish usually contain more mercury and smaller fish at the bottom of the food chain will be safer for pregnant women to eat. Calamari, hake and salmon among others are very low in mercury.
  • You can actually drink coffee! Two cups of coffee per day will not harm your baby. Just don’t drink decaffeinated coffee as it’s much more processed. Douwe Egberts Dark Roast is a high-quality coffee with a low caffeine content.
  • You can put low lights in your hair, not highlights or full colour.

This might seem like a long list and there is so much more to learn. My philosophy is that it is only nine short months that we have to make a few adjustments and sacrifices which will impact our children’s whole lives!

If you are unsure of the safety of any medication while pregnant or breastfeeding, you can search the active ingredients on Infantrisk.com.