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Not many topics polarize the mothering community more than breastfeeding. The merits of natural suckling have been debated by scientists and clinicians for decades. There are many benefits to both that we will discuss within this article, giving a brief glimpse into the great breastfeeding debate. Breastfeeding is a natural process that has been the norm for hundreds of thousands of years and there are several benefits to mother and child worth mentioning. Firstly, natural breastmilk is digested with greater ease by a young infant. This results in significantly less wind, constipation, and all-around discomfort. Natural feeding is is also said to be the optimal way of transferring valuable nutrients between mother and child. Breast-milk contains antibodies that reduce the risk of disease in both baby and mother. For new mums, these antibodies reduce stress and lower the risk of depression. Another benefit of natural feeding is the development of a strong bond between mother and child during feeding times. Skin-on-skin contact is known to be extremely beneficial to a developing infant while families also report massive savings in comparison to buying expensive bottles of formula. Even though these benefits are proven, only 30% of mothers choose to breastfeed their child as there are definite drawbacks to choosing the natural route. For instance, feeding times fall exclusively to the mother and ties the woman to her child for long periods of time and new mothers fear the judgment they will receive when feeding in public. All mothers want the best for their children and this sometimes leads them to be racked with guilt if they are deemed to be making the wrong choice. Some in the mothering community tend to stigmatize formula feeding so let us examine the characteristics of this method. In greater detail. Bottle feeding is a relatively modern innovation, coming into general use around the dawn of the 1900s. This is a synthetic mixture that closely mimics the ingredients of breast milk. It is seen as a convenient alternative to those who wish to forego breastfeeding because it allows both parents to share the division of labor as all the work is not left up to the mother. Formula also offers flexibility as the bottles are pre-prepared. Parents in need of a break have the option of leaving their infant with a babysitter and feeding is taken care of. Science has advanced exponentially but formula still cannot match millions of years of human evolution. As mentioned, synthetic bottle-formula is much more difficult for an infant to break down and digest so this leads to distress in a young child. Formula lacks some natural antibodies that are present in breastmilk. Professor Peter Harman is a specialist in breastfeeding and milk production and in an interview with Medela.com, he explains that: “Scientists have shown there are more than 1,000 proteins in breast milk – and the best formula companies are looking at increasing just one or other of them. What’s more, people have only just been able to synthesize some of the many oligosaccharides found in breast milk so copying a couple of proteins and oligosaccharides is not going to get you breast milk!” Similarly, the cost of formula can be very expensive in the long-run and bottles are not always at hand in the same way that breastmilk is always available. In conclusion, this fierce debate does not have to be either, or, there should be nuanced shades of grey in which both can be used in tandem. Parenting is difficult and we can all agree that there should be less shame around how you choose to feed your baby. Formula feeding can act as a helpful substitute in times of need but the majority believe that breastfeeding is the healthiest option. Both methods provide energy, hydration, and nutrients but breastmilk is the clear favorite in terms of antibodies and associated health benefits. As Professor Hartman puts it: “Look at the bigger picture when deciding whether to give your baby breast milk or formula because breast milk isn’t just food. It has an important protective function, reducing your baby’s likelihood of diarrhea, gastroenteritis, ear infections, colds and flu, and thrush and halves his risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)”.
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With a newborn bouncing bundle of joy, it is normal to rack up a few sleepless nights. If regularly woken by a cry from the other room, new parents can struggle. Leaving some well and truly at the end of their tether. Young parents are thrown in at the deep-end. Totally unsure of what they are doing. Leading to huge amounts of anxiety. Sleep deprivation only adds to this feeling of helplessness. Fear not! We’ve got a handy guide to get your baby nodding off like clockwork. These gentle, natural solutions will allow you beleaguered parents to catch some much-sought shut-eye. While your well-rested baby will be significantly more tolerant, patient and engaging. Routine Babies thrive on order and routine. Order means safety. To a child’s undeveloped brain, this is an essential need. A regular wake-up and bed-time regulates the body clock of a young child. Allowing the circadian rhythm to enforce regular sleep patterns. On waking, it is advised to expose the baby to bright natural light. Triggering the circadian rhythm to full alertness. Therefore starting the countdown to another full sleep. At the approach of night-time, a set of pre-sleep habits encourage proper slumber. Pre-sleep habits might include a bath, reading or simply cuddling. As long as it allows the child to wind down, easing into a peaceful reverie. These routines act as psychological cues for the young infant, reinforcing healthy sleep over time. Swaddling A swaddle is soft fabric that usually wraps around the newborn, offering a safe and secure cocoon of warmth. This envelops the child, limiting the effect of the innate startle reflex. A startle reflex is typical of newborns. After so long in the womb, infants can jolt awake suddenly, with a feeling of falling. Usually ceasing after about six months. A swaddle which is tucked snugly, prevents this violent movement from waking your little tyke up. The lightly weighted fabric of the swaddle also mimics touch. Reassuring the child and encouraging them to return to their charming slumber. Ideally without the intervention of soundly dozing Mom and Dad. Limiting nap-length Fledgeling parents are often so relieved to have a minute to sit down, they let their infant nap for far too long. These naps may offer relief in the moment but this time is stolen from night-time sleep. It is a thorny issue to wake a sleeping baby. However, parents should aim for 2.5 hours of napping. Followed by feeding and time awake. Before another well-earned snooze. Especially in the late afternoon when parents should be gearing up for deeper nightly rest. As they grow and get older, you will notice they need less nap-time throughout the day. A 2.5 hour limit also builds a schedule. Consistency being key to comforting an irritated child. We urge to parents to use their judgement. If a child is overtired, allow some extra time for recovery in the sleep schedule. Eat, wake, sleep, repeat On waking, a child should feed immediately. Followed by a period of alertness and playtime. Finally, the infant is lulled back to sleep. Repeat these steps as part of an ordered routine. This is known as the eat, wake, sleep cycle. Eating before sleep trains the brain to associate food with tiredness. Which fast becomes a crutch with young children. As a result, babies cannot return to sleep without a feeding. Meaning that Mum will always have to be around during the night to tend to any unexpected wake-up calls. This consistent routine allows babies to soothe themselves at night and return to sleep most often. While reducing the risk of overtiredness. As the infant learns when to sleep through practice. This predictability allows parents to plan their day with greater regularity. Keep your baby close Newborns yearn for close contact. Skin-to-skin closeness is known to bond mother and child while reducing bawling throughout the day. It is recommended to carry your child, whether in a sling or not. A baby can sense when parents are not close-at-hand. Understandably so, as an abandoned child would not last long in our wilder evolutionary past. Use rhythm and motion to usher in sweet dreams. Or sleep snuggled up with the child lying on your chest. This regulates body temperature and creates a sense of ease in an infant. If necessary, share the same room. The early stages of child development can be tough, but bear in mind they do not last forever. Use every tool at your disposal to get through it! Who ever said it would be child’s play? Newfangled parents will often hear stories of angelic babies, sleeping soundly throughout the night. Urging them to plead – why me? Like adults, every little infant is different. Each with its own distinct personality, wants and needs. It takes time to figure out what is best for your family so don’t throw in the towel. Those hefty bags under your eyes won’t be there forever, we promise! A shorter sleep cycle is expected. Celebrate small successes and take an hour to yourself now and again. Remember it takes a village to raise a child. So, reach out and ask for help. You are a better parent when you are well rested. In the midst of your sleep deprivation, keep in mind that these are simply guidelines. Trust yourself to know your baby better than any external authority. Do what works best for your family. People who say they sleep like a baby, have usually never met one!
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Every parent wants their children to be happy, which is why it can be so hard to say no. However, research shows that the most beneficial parenting style for infant development is a mixture of compassion and clear boundaries. A monumental tantrum can put a dampener on the loveliest family evenings. When kids act out, scream and plead, giving-in can be a tempting short term solution to end the conflict. Nonetheless, parents must beware that too many concessions can result in becoming a slave to their children’s demands. Learning to be assertive is essential in raising a child that is capable and self sufficient. Setting boundaries and sticking to them will teach an infant to delay gratification and tolerate the inevitable frustrations experienced in later life with resilience and grace. This article teaches you when to pick your battles and take back authority. Following through on a clear and decisive ‘no’ without escalating conflict and creating consistent limitations that will make your child thrive in a reliable sense of routine. Danger Young infants do not yet have a strongly developed reasoning faculty to make informed choices. As an adult, with years of life experience, it is up to you to prevent the child from harming themselves or others. For example, a child that is about to handle an electrical socket or touch a red-hot stove should be lectured on the danger of such an endeavour. Lest, the child repeats the behaviour once out of sight of parental figures. Another instance might include bouncing on a couch or mattress. Children need help making sensible choices, therefore an adult might direct them to a safer activity. Thus, teaching a youngster to delay gratification. A child that understands safety and patience will be an appealing playmate. It is much harder to socialize children to play well with others when they have only experienced being treated like a tiny emperor. Self-reliance The ultimate aim of parenting is to produce competent adults. Consequently, kids need practice mastering difficult tasks. This essential training is denied to an infant if every little thing is taken care of for them. It may be enticing to quickly tie their shoelaces and button up their jacket, especially when in a tremendous rush to get out the house. Yet, this robs them of a vital opportunity to develop proficiency and independence. These incremental successes build confidence and self-esteem. Something as simple as setting the table gives a sense of contributing to the family unit and feeling needed is a fundamental building block of self-worth. Mastery of their environment in childhood instills a certain confidence in later life, leading them to tackle difficult circumstances instead of shying away when faced with adversity. Saying ‘no’ in this circumstance forges a stronger and more resilient adult. Resentment When resentment piles up in any relationship, it can be truly detrimental. The bond between parent and child is no different. Many will not readily admit that they bear a grudge towards their young infant as it is taboo. Yet, it is surprisingly prevalent. Parents make significant sacrifices for their kids, without taking time for themselves. When resentment mounts, parents bury this emotion and feel guilty instead. However, it is beneficial to listen and take notice of strong emotions. If bitterness reaches fever pitch, revenge is taken, whether conscious or not. Therefore, aim to prevent your child from doing things that make you resent them. Set reasonable boundaries and compromise on alternatives that both are happy with. Children often don’t realize that what they are doing is wrong, so stay calm and explain. Be assertive, if you cave in to every little demand, you might not like yourself for it. Self-respect is the basis of saying ‘no’ and sticking to your guns. A want, not a need Infants struggle to contain selfish impulses because their prefrontal cortex is still in development. This is something that advertisers know and love to take advantage of. Young kids are besieged on all sides with shiny new toys to bug Mum and Dad about. Parents must differentiate between what is a need or just a passing yearning. Saying ‘no’ teaches valuable lessons in patience and delaying gratification. Therefore, it is best to acknowledge that it is a beautiful object and they can save up for it in the future if it is truly necessary. For instance, parents are bombarded nowadays with their children’s desire to purchase a smartphone. However, there should be an age-limit to such risky and addictive technology. A certain level of maturity is needed to operate phones safely. Never purchase something if it runs against your better judgement. Children will respect integrity in the long run. Parents are setting an example in how they behave so this is an exercise in teaching moral character. Your children are watching even when you don’t think they are. The importance of boundaries Parents are overworked, overburdened and overtired. It is no surprise then that they would rather not spend valuable family time arguing. Many would be inclined to favour short-term solutions that guarantee a little peace and quiet. However, it is best for parents to instill strong habits early on, actively striving to make themselves obsolete. Thereby raising autonomous citizens of the world who can then give back, instead of learning to greedily take what they feel entitled to. For this reason, say ‘no’ in a clear and firm tone, following through with consistency and fairness. Meet outbursts with calm explanation instead of escalating to anger. A child will capitalize on any weakness shown, so think twice before backing down. Children will feel safe and comfortable when they understand the clear boundaries assigned to behavior. That being said, too many rules is a tyranny. Walk the line between structure and enjoyment to provide security without stifling childish imagination and joy. For the sake of your growing youngster, be assertive and give them structure. Their future selves will thank you.
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To handle a toddler is complicated, whether it’s your first experience or you have already experienced the joys of becoming a parent. It is very important to understand that every toddler has a different personality that will change (maybe preserving many or few peculiarities) until it becomes an adult. It is not possible to paint us all with the same brush and things don’t change when we talk about learning. Let’s just think about all the techniques of learning and studying developed through the years: e.g. the philosophy about infant education according to Italian teacher Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method is still in practice in many schools in various countries even though there are detractors claiming that it has proved to be inefficient. Instead, what about Steiner’s pedagogical approach? His method, also called Waldorf education, is appreciated by many parents and used in many schools; yes, other experts of the field claim the Waldorf Method is not only useless, but actually dangerous in developing the character of children, mostly for the large freedom of expression left to the students without any kind of barrier. Many people disagree with the fact of not giving rules to children even though, luckily, corporal punishments are not considered as a way of educating your children anymore. So, supposing that we are wondering what is the best way to help our toddler become a clever, respectful, kind and smart person. What’s the answer? Schools exist to provide, together with teaching subjects, some basic concepts (they can slightly vary depending on the normative of each country). These concepts derive from the study of psychology and pedagogy. A toddler should be free to develop some ideas rather than achieving tasks. Those ideas will then bring them to follow some interests and, just in that moment, to excel in something. So the inputs we should provide a toddler to give them a good starting point should be something like the following: 1. Relating with the others. This is particularly important for an only child. Through social relations the young human being learns firstly about themselves and how treat others and be treated. There is surely much to learn from encounters with different personalities and, if the toddler is a little bold this would be a chance to let it understand that a certain negative behaviour will have consequences. If they want to be accepted in a social group, they will need to consider and respect different points of view. Let your kids socialize with others; try to find the time to bring them where they can meet friends. 2. Moving the body. Help the toddler learn how their body works. They will need to become autonomous: feeding themselves, dressing up, taking care of personal hygiene. Don’t spoil the toddler and don’t be too indulgent; yet, you also have to be patient. For example, bedwetting is normal until a certain age but if you criticise them too much you could obtain a result other than what you desire: the reproach could generate a high level of uneasiness, transforming a small thing into a type of trauma. 3. Learning to speak. It is important for a toddler to listen before learning how to talk. Speaking in two languages could be a plus because the young brain is more capable of learning. The toddler will absorb an impressive quantity of words so try to avoid rude language. We all enjoyed learning the “bad words” when we were younger and the more our parents were telling us “don’t say this word” the more we liked saying it. 4. Familiarizing with creativity. Together with language, it is useful to introduce a toddler to other forms of communication: images, sounds, handcrafting, dances, technology. The purpose is not to find out that you have a prodigy child who can play the piano at the age of two, but to make it conscious about the things it might want to do in the future. 5. Learning about the world. Drawings, listening to music and hanging out with friends are all activities we can do indoors. But we mustn’t forget about the contact with nature. This is important for two reasons: first, to discover the different environments around us (e.g. how is country life perceived by a toddler living in the city and vice versa), to learn that the world is not just what we can see outside our window and, second, to make the toddler aware of itself in the space. Its brain will be able to understand where its body is located in the space, to orientate itself and to follow directions. Spending time doing outdoor activities will allow the toddler to observe natural phenomena and living creatures; they will start formulating hypothesis to explain what they see, to learn specific terms to describe what they see. Parents will provide them with the appropriate language and explanations and, possibly, they will be able to teach their children to respect nature and living things.
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Pregnancy is an amazing time in a woman’s life. Preparations begin for the new arrival and mothers do their best to give their baby the best chance of a healthy life. Sadly, prenatal disorders can sometimes occur during pregnancy, although they are present in a minority of cases. Women often worry about these developing during pregnancy, but what are they? Prenatal disorders are defects that occurs before the birth of the baby. Some birth defects like clubfoot can be seen at birth, yet other problems may not be recognised until later, like hearing issues. Doctors and midwives do their best to ensure the baby is healthy by scheduling regular check-ups and scans during pregnancy and performing tests to monitor any signs of potential irregularities. While in the womb babies can develop complications when their organs and bodies are forming. Often prenatal disorders occur as a result of genetic makeup that is passed from the parents. Others can be caused from chromosomal problems. A minority of defects are sometimes caused as a result of medications that the parent is taking or infections they may have picked up. The reality is that in many cases there are no known reasons why they are caused. Certain factors can increase the rate of prenatal disorders such as geriatric pregnancies (women over 35), women who have previously had a child with a prenatal disorder, have a family history of disorders, uses certain medication at the time of conception, abuses drugs or alcohol during pregnancy or has medical conditions like diabetes or obesity.     Unfortunately, not all prenatal disorders can be prevented, but there are many things you can do to decrease the risk of the baby developing them. If you are planning to have a child you should visit your doctor first. They will assess your health, risk factors and chances of having a healthy pregnancy. They will also give you helpful advice with any questions you might have about pregnancy or prenatal disorders. Speak with your doctor about any medications that you are on that could affect the pregnancy or medical conditions you have. Ensure that you have all of your injections at least one month before becoming pregnant. It is recommended to get a flu shot as pregnant women are more likely to suffer severe illness from the flu with many being hospitalised each year. Begin taking a prenatal multivitamin to improve your immune system before and during pregnancy. These are available from your local pharmacy and contain the specific amounts of vitamins and minerals that are essential at this time including vitamin A, C D, folic acid, and minerals like iron. However, do not exceed 10,000 units of vitamin A a day as overindulgence has been seen to result in complications during pregnancy. It is advised that 400 micrograms of folic acid ought to be consumed daily for the duration of a month before pregnancy and during pregnancy. This is a B vitamin that helps with neural tube defects such as spina bifida. It’s also important to avoid certain agents. It is good to limit Mercury intake, so avoid eating king mackerel, shark, tilefish or swordfish. You can however eat up to 6 ounces a week of white tuna. Many women believe fish should not be eaten during pregnancy, however it is nutritional for mother and baby. You can eat 8-12 ounces of low-mercury fish and shellfish per week. Exposure to lead is suggested, which is present in old paint and construction resources. Certain infections can increase the threat of prenatal disorders. Many people are vaccinated against these, so infections are not a huge risk. Rubella is one such infection which symptoms include rash and fever. It’s a virus that during pregnancy can cause miscarriage, deafness, blindness, heart issues or learning difficulties in a newborn. Toxoplasmosis is another, caused by a parasite from the soil. People catch this by eating undercooked meat, unwashed vegetables or animal faeces, particularly from cats. This often causes deafness, blindness and intellectual issues. Only consume meat that is cooked through and wear gloves when gardening, handling unwashed vegetables or animal faeces. Cytomegalovirus is an extremely common virus that causes no real issues in an average person, but can infect the foetus of a pregnant woman. Most of the time it is not harmful but in a minority of cases it has resulted in babies developing problems with vision, hearing and intellectual disability. This can be spread through a child’s urine or body fluids. Pregnant women who are in regular contact with children should wear gloves when changing nappies and wash hands regularly. Sexually transmitted infections also cause prenatal disorders. During gestation it’s advised to maintain a healthy weight as obesity can cause complications. And of course, avoid all alcohol, drugs or prescription medication for nonmedical purposes. Alcohol passes to the baby through the umbilical cord and can have huge implications on an infant’s growth rate as well as causing lifelong physical, intellectual and behavioural problems. It is worth noting that there is no official or recommend ‘safe’ amount of alcohol to consume during pregnancy. Drug use can also cause prenatal disorders and miscarriage. In the final stages of pregnancy drug abuse often stunts the growth of the foetus, causes preterm birth or even fetal death. Babies who are born to mothers who used drugs during pregnancy often need special care and can be addicted to narcotics. Smoking cigarettes has also been linked to disorders such as cleft lip, cleft palate and even infant death. The mere presence of tobacco around a pregnant lady can put her at risk. If you have high risk factors your health care professional or obstetrician-gynaecologist (ob-gyn) may perform additional tests to attempt to reduce your risk level. If you have concerns about a family history of prenatal disorders you can consider genetic counselling or screening to examine your baby. This allows mothers to gain all the information they can before delivery in order to make decisions and prepare.
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To handle a toddler is complicated, whether it’s your first experience or you have already experienced the joys of becoming a parent. It is very important to understand that every toddler has a different personality that will change (maybe preserving many or few peculiarities) until it becomes an adult. It is not possible to paint us all with the same brush and things don’t change when we talk about learning. Let’s just think about all the techniques of learning and studying developed through the years: e.g. the philosophy about infant education according to Italian teacher Maria Montessori. The Montessori Method is still in practice in many schools in various countries even though there are detractors claiming that it has proved to be inefficient. Instead, what about Steiner’s pedagogical approach? His method, also called Waldorf education, is appreciated by many parents and used in many schools; yes, other experts of the field claim the Waldorf Method is not only useless, but actually dangerous in developing the character of children, mostly for the large freedom of expression left to the students without any kind of barrier. Many people disagree with the fact of not giving rules to children even though, luckily, corporal punishments are not considered as a way of educating your children anymore. So, supposing that we are wondering what is the best way to help our toddler become a clever, respectful, kind and smart person. What’s the answer? Schools exist to provide, together with teaching subjects, some basic concepts (they can slightly vary depending on the normative of each country). These concepts derive from the study of psychology and pedagogy. A toddler should be free to develop some ideas rather than achieving tasks. Those ideas will then bring them to follow some interests and, just in that moment, to excel in something. So the inputs we should provide a toddler to give them a good starting point should be something like the following: 1. Relating with the others. This is particularly important for an only child. Through social relations the young human being learns firstly about themselves and how treat others and be treated. There is surely much to learn from encounters with different personalities and, if the toddler is a little bold this would be a chance to let it understand that a certain negative behaviour will have consequences. If they want to be accepted in a social group, they will need to consider and respect different points of view. Let your kids socialize with others; try to find the time to bring them where they can meet friends. 2. Moving the body. Help the toddler learn how their body works. They will need to become autonomous: feeding themselves, dressing up, taking care of personal hygiene. Don’t spoil the toddler and don’t be too indulgent; yet, you also have to be patient. For example, bedwetting is normal until a certain age but if you criticise them too much you could obtain a result other than what you desire: the reproach could generate a high level of uneasiness, transforming a small thing into a type of trauma. 3. Learning to speak. It is important for a toddler to listen before learning how to talk. Speaking in two languages could be a plus because the young brain is more capable of learning. The toddler will absorb an impressive quantity of words so try to avoid rude language. We all enjoyed learning the “bad words” when we were younger and the more our parents were telling us “don’t say this word” the more we liked saying it. 4. Familiarizing with creativity. Together with language, it is useful to introduce a toddler to other forms of communication: images, sounds, handcrafting, dances, technology. The purpose is not to find out that you have a prodigy child who can play the piano at the age of two, but to make it conscious about the things it might want to do in the future. 5. Learning about the world. Drawings, listening to music and hanging out with friends are all activities we can do indoors. But we mustn’t forget about the contact with nature. This is important for two reasons: first, to discover the different environments around us (e.g. how is country life perceived by a toddler living in the city and vice versa), to learn that the world is not just what we can see outside our window and, second, to make the toddler aware of itself in the space. Its brain will be able to understand where its body is located in the space, to orientate itself and to follow directions. Spending time doing outdoor activities will allow the toddler to observe natural phenomena and living creatures; they will start formulating hypothesis to explain what they see, to learn specific terms to describe what they see. Parents will provide them with the appropriate language and explanations and, possibly, they will be able to teach their children to respect nature and living things.
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Nowadays, being a parent is not easy… Well, it has surely never been. However, coping with anxiety, comparing yourself to the other parents with a resulting feeling of inadequacy together with a series of other unpleasant sensations is now a thing. We call that, precisely, parental burnout: a phenomenon that is an object of studies in many countries but yet mysterious. It is possible to describe it, to recognize the symptoms but still hard to find and, subsequently, to prevent the causes. Parental burnout syndrome can be recognized by three characteristics, which are: 1. Feeling overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally 2. Feeling distant from your child/children. This distance is emotional and it’s put in practice by our brains in order to get a distraction from the source of stress (the kids, in this case). This has nothing to do with neglecting: the parent is perfectly able to complete tasks at a “physical” level: feeding, washing, dressing, bringing the child to school and after school activities 3. A general sense of being an incapable parent The burnout syndrome was studied in the past as “working burnout” as it affected the working sphere. Then, researchers noticed a similar pattern that affects the parenting role. The first country to observe this was the United States in the ‘80s. Only in very recent times, during the second decade of the 2000s, the concept became widespread in Europe even though it is still partially unknown in some countries. Ignorance regarding this subject is not a fault attributable to factors or to someone, but is certainly due to a sense of shame felt by the parents affected who are afraid to admit they are just not feeling good. What we know so far is that this syndrome relates to both mothers and fathers and it might remind one of postpartum depression but the latter begins before 18 months of age, while the burnout starts after that period. In Europe, this phenomenon is being studied in countries like the Netherlands and Belgium. The inventories usually consider variables representing the concepts of emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing and personal accomplishment. However, having a broad vision about parental burnout is still difficult due to the aforementioned sense of shame which leads to some people lying about it. Is it possible to prevent parental burnout? The fact that there is a hidden feeling of inadequacy affecting most aspects of our lives, would suggest that only in some cases can it be successfully defeated. Not only do we feel incapable of being parents: we feel like incapable new mothers (see also: postpartum depression), we feel incapable of working successfully to reach a dreamy, wealthy lifestyle and so we spend our time on our social media, adding an alluring touch to our posts. On reflection, parents could naturally adopt some predictable expedients to reduce their negative feelings. Don’t feel guilty about your feelings. Adolescence is usually a hard moment and many of us probably told our parents, at least once, “I hate you!” You might be annoyed by some of your kids attitudes as you were annoyed by your parents when you were young. It’s reciprocal, so it’s not a big deal. 2. Don’t compare your parenting style to what you see on social media. The web is full of articles that sound like “I am a normal mother and I feel inferior to the Instagram mothers”. At this point, everyone knows that online life is much different from the offline one, also known as reality. A boring moment spent with your family can look like the funniest moment ever: you just need to shoot the picture from the right angle, add a nice filter and a thoughtful caption. Don’t fall into this trap: every family has problems, fights, horrible days. Just don’t take what you see on your socials as the real life of other parents, because it’s not. 3. If you have to compare yourself with someone else, do it with real life models. If you see some good dynamics in a family, you can take it as an inspiration. Don’t be envious, just think about what you can do to improve your own dynamics. Anyway, always be careful: spending much time with parents and their kids that seem perfect and happy doesn’t mean that it is the truth: you can never know how a family is really doing if you’re not part of that family. 4. Don’t listen to people when they are just talking. Every mom will tell you that her children are the best at studying, at doing sports, at tidying their rooms. That is a natural behaviour because, after all, parents love their children very much, no matter how many mistakes they make. And, like anybody, they too make mistakes! Nobody is perfect and if someone is trying to convince you that their family is perfect, well… they’re lying. 5. Trust the experts, just when needed. There are different theories about parenting and raising children and they probably contradict each other. On one hand, for example, videogames are not recommended before a certain age and, at least, not for too many hours a week. On the other hand, we live in the digital era so our progeny needs to learn how technology works: it’s a skill that could be useful for their future careers. Your child could become a video game programmer or for example a software engineer. Ask the right people for suggestions and you will be able to understand when something is a healthy interest and when it becomes an obstacle to other activities. We could say the same about nutrition: the advertisements teach us that a hearty breakfast is the only way to begin the day in a positive way. There is a myth claiming that people not having breakfast are prone to becoming overweight. At the same time, studies report that having milk in the morning is not necessary but can, in actual fact, lead to the development of cancer. Sugary snacks can bring about cellulitis and diabetes. Juice might cause stomach acidity. Just find your own balance, don’t feel stressed because you’re not following “the rules”. In conclusion, life has changed a lot during the last decades. In the past it was normal for some women to be housewives, mothers and nothing else. Today, both men and women have varying and crazy schedules; work can be stressful and sometimes we need to destress with a night out with friends or just with your partner. When you’re a parent this can be more difficult and you might feel guilty for leaving your children with someone else. Why? Asking for any kind of help is the first step to solving a problem and there’s absolutely nothing weird about calling a babysitter! Unfortunately, even if parental burnout relates to both fathers and mothers, in society the idea that a woman’s life is full only when she becomes a mother is still present. If you are a woman in a career with no children, you’re an egoist and you just care about your job. If you have children, you’re constantly afraid of not being enough: this is completely unfair, isn’t it?
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Unlike what people tend to think, depression is not a phenomenon related to the adult life. Children can be affected by it and recognising their symptoms is of great importance for a parent or an educator. As recent discoveries in the medical field have put into light, depressed toddlers are not rare: on the contrary, their number is growing more and more, reflecting the main problems of our contemporary society. Childhood depression manifests itself through several behaviours. Its main causes are various and partly depend on the personality of the child and his family environment. Nevertheless, some situations are more likely to engender depression or distress among infants and children. We have interviewed Deborah D’Alessandro, Professional Educator at “Centro Infanzia L’Ippopotamo”, in Trento, Italy. Working with 0/3-year-old children made her reflect on the problem of depression. Even though it is not common to talk about depression when dealing with children, this mental condition presents some characteristics that should be noticed by parents and educators alike. “An impossibility of expressing feelings is often at the core of depression among children”, affirmed D’Alessandro, “The reasons of this problem mainly reside on the figure of parents. I am not talking of their physical absence due to working constrictions. I am tackling a common behaviour: their incapability of saying no. If children have the impression that they can do whatever they want, they will face problems at an emotional level. The limited presence of parents can imply other problems. As parents do not have much time to dedicate to their children, they tend to avoid arguments and let them free to behave and decide for themselves. As a result, this condition entails an additional problem: the lack of communication between parents and children, the latter having to repress their feelings. On the contrary, learning how to express and deal with their own feelings is a fundamental step in the life of toddlers, which should not be ignored or underestimated by parents. Most of the times, the repression of feelings and emotions leads to anger. By observing their behaviour, it is possible to state that children have drastically changed in the last few years. They are more and more violent, namely against themselves. The fact that they are often obliged to adapt their person to the daily rhythm of their parents can be a symptom of distress: not only they have to spend their day in a building that doesn’t look like home, but they have also to accept the decisions of other people, such as their educators. The main manifestations of this mental distress can be vomit, unmotivated anger, and the refusal of people’s authority. As depression can lead the child to lose interest in fun activities, parents can offer their child an interesting and various approach to life, organising enjoyable activities during the weekend. Interacting with other children or adults can turn into a positive impulse capable of reactivating the creativity and vitality of your child.   Consequently, depression can be expressed in several different ways. Children who experience a lack of communication and are used to repress their feelings and emotions have more chances to be depressed at a clinical level. Talking to your child is the best solution to prevent depression. It will help him understand the importance of expressing his feelings, without being ashamed of it. It is also crucial to analyse the responses of a child to situations. His reactions may express more than his words, offering another perspective to parents to take care of their children.   Parents tend to be very worried when their children are playing in the garden or in a park: although it is important to pay attention to what children do, parents should focus more on what they say and how they do it. Psychological wellness is strictly related to the physical one. Being more indirect and implicit, the mental wealth of your child deserves all your attentions, inside and outside your house.
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Nowadays, being a parent is not easy… Well, it has surely never been. However, coping with anxiety, comparing yourself to the other parents with a resulting feeling of inadequacy together with a series of other unpleasant sensations is now a thing. We call that, precisely, parental burnout: a phenomenon that is an object of studies in many countries but yet mysterious. It is possible to describe it, to recognize the symptoms but still hard to find and, subsequently, to prevent the causes. Parental burnout syndrome can be recognized by three characteristics, which are: 1. Feeling overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally 2. Feeling distant from your child/children. This distance is emotional and it’s put in practice by our brains in order to get a distraction from the source of stress (the kids, in this case). This has nothing to do with neglecting: the parent is perfectly able to complete tasks at a “physical” level: feeding, washing, dressing, bringing the child to school and after school activities 3. A general sense of being an incapable parent The burnout syndrome was studied in the past as “working burnout” as it affected the working sphere. Then, researchers noticed a similar pattern that affects the parenting role. The first country to observe this was the United States in the ‘80s. Only in very recent times, during the second decade of the 2000s, the concept became widespread in Europe even though it is still partially unknown in some countries. Ignorance regarding this subject is not a fault attributable to factors or to someone, but is certainly due to a sense of shame felt by the parents affected who are afraid to admit they are just not feeling good. What we know so far is that this syndrome relates to both mothers and fathers and it might remind one of postpartum depression but the latter begins before 18 months of age, while the burnout starts after that period. In Europe, this phenomenon is being studied in countries like the Netherlands and Belgium. The inventories usually consider variables representing the concepts of emotional exhaustion, emotional distancing and personal accomplishment. However, having a broad vision about parental burnout is still difficult due to the aforementioned sense of shame which leads to some people lying about it. Is it possible to prevent parental burnout? The fact that there is a hidden feeling of inadequacy affecting most aspects of our lives, would suggest that only in some cases can it be successfully defeated. Not only do we feel incapable of being parents: we feel like incapable new mothers (see also: postpartum depression), we feel incapable of working successfully to reach a dreamy, wealthy lifestyle and so we spend our time on our social media, adding an alluring touch to our posts. On reflection, parents could naturally adopt some predictable expedients to reduce their negative feelings. Don’t feel guilty about your feelings. Adolescence is usually a hard moment and many of us probably told our parents, at least once, “I hate you!” You might be annoyed by some of your kids attitudes as you were annoyed by your parents when you were young. It’s reciprocal, so it’s not a big deal. 2. Don’t compare your parenting style to what you see on social media. The web is full of articles that sound like “I am a normal mother and I feel inferior to the Instagram mothers”. At this point, everyone knows that online life is much different from the offline one, also known as reality. A boring moment spent with your family can look like the funniest moment ever: you just need to shoot the picture from the right angle, add a nice filter and a thoughtful caption. Don’t fall into this trap: every family has problems, fights, horrible days. Just don’t take what you see on your socials as the real life of other parents, because it’s not. 3. If you have to compare yourself with someone else, do it with real life models. If you see some good dynamics in a family, you can take it as an inspiration. Don’t be envious, just think about what you can do to improve your own dynamics. Anyway, always be careful: spending much time with parents and their kids that seem perfect and happy doesn’t mean that it is the truth: you can never know how a family is really doing if you’re not part of that family. 4. Don’t listen to people when they are just talking. Every mom will tell you that her children are the best at studying, at doing sports, at tidying their rooms. That is a natural behaviour because, after all, parents love their children very much, no matter how many mistakes they make. And, like anybody, they too make mistakes! Nobody is perfect and if someone is trying to convince you that their family is perfect, well… they’re lying. 5. Trust the experts, just when needed. There are different theories about parenting and raising children and they probably contradict each other. On one hand, for example, videogames are not recommended before a certain age and, at least, not for too many hours a week. On the other hand, we live in the digital era so our progeny needs to learn how technology works: it’s a skill that could be useful for their future careers. Your child could become a video game programmer or for example a software engineer. Ask the right people for suggestions and you will be able to understand when something is a healthy interest and when it becomes an obstacle to other activities. We could say the same about nutrition: the advertisements teach us that a hearty breakfast is the only way to begin the day in a positive way. There is a myth claiming that people not having breakfast are prone to becoming overweight. At the same time, studies report that having milk in the morning is not necessary but can, in actual fact, lead to the development of cancer. Sugary snacks can bring about cellulitis and diabetes. Juice might cause stomach acidity. Just find your own balance, don’t feel stressed because you’re not following “the rules”. In conclusion, life has changed a lot during the last decades. In the past it was normal for some women to be housewives, mothers and nothing else. Today, both men and women have varying and crazy schedules; work can be stressful and sometimes we need to destress with a night out with friends or just with your partner. When you’re a parent this can be more difficult and you might feel guilty for leaving your children with someone else. Why? Asking for any kind of help is the first step to solving a problem and there’s absolutely nothing weird about calling a babysitter! Unfortunately, even if parental burnout relates to both fathers and mothers, in society the idea that a woman’s life is full only when she becomes a mother is still present. If you are a woman in a career with no children, you’re an egoist and you just care about your job. If you have children, you’re constantly afraid of not being enough: this is completely unfair, isn’t it?
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Pregnancy is a moment of life where several changes are about to happen. They are not only related to the mind of the woman, but also to her body. These physical transformations need some time to be perceived and they do not come all in a sudden. In fact, pregnancy is composed of three semesters and each of them entails different effects on our body. Therefore, it is important to be prepared and know your own body before the perception of these symptoms may worry you. Changes are inevitable during pregnancy, that’s why you should only need to be well informed and ready to accept your new needs and physical conditions. Weeks 1-4: The first sign of pregnancy is the absence of your period, even though this doesn’t always happen. When your egg implants, you may experience vaginal bleeding. This phenomenon is very light: women should become worried if it causes pain or a heavy flow. At the end of this period, you may perceive two other signs: breast tenderness and morning sickness. Weeks 5-8: Mood swings are about to start. Hormones and emotions go hand in hand in this moment of life, a fact that women should simply accept and live with. Other symptoms can be, for instance, exhaustion, nausea, headaches, super-sore breasts, and faintness. Although this stage may sound unpleasant, it is preparing your body for the changes that are about to take place. During week 7, you may also start putting on weight and eating for two. Weeks 9-12: Because of the increasing of blood volume, it is normal to feel dizzy, to urinate more than usual, and to experience light vaginal bleeding. The good news is that your facial skin will be smooth and shiny thanks to the increasing production of oil glands. This is also the moment where your belly won’t let you hide the secret anymore! Weeks 13-16: Feeling clumsy is absolutely normal in this stage. Due to a hormone called Relaxin, your legs, hands, and arms will be more relaxed and less strong. The risk of miscarriage is now very low, that’s why you can enjoy your pregnancy without being too worried. Furthermore, your appetite, energy and mood are going to improve. Several pregnant women experience also another phenomenon: skin darkening, especially if you have dark hair and pale skin. It is also the moment where you can feel your baby kicking! Weeks 17-20: Some digestive problems may be troublesome, as well as a fast breath or, on the contrary, shortness of breath. You may also experience nosebleeds and, once again, dizziness. If you feel wobbly, it’s because your body is getting used to this condition and is going to be prepared for the birth moment. Weeks 21-24: Ligament pains will be part of your daily life very soon, you only have to get used to them. Furthermore, the presence of unwanted hairs on your body shouldn’t bother you: removing them is not the right solution. Because of you being dizzy and tired, your libido may drop in a drastic way, especially for a short period of time. Weeks 25-28: Carpal tunnel syndrome is pretty common during this stage, as well as other ligament pains. This is mainly provoked by your weight and your round belly! Weeks 29-32: Breathing difficulties are more than normal after the second semester. You may also experience unpleasant side effects, such as varicose veins and stretch marks. The main reason of hip and lower-back pain is related to your hormones, which are relaxing your ligaments. Weeks 33-36: Your baby is settling lower into your pelvis, getting ready to discover the world. In fact, you may feel lighter during these days. It’s now time to lay down and wait to become a mom! If knowing pregnancy symptoms is very important, expecting women should always rely on the support and the advice of their own doctor. In case of bleeding or constant dizziness, for instance, it is necessary to book an appointment and ask your doctor if everything is alright with you and your baby. Nevertheless, pregnancy is something more than a careful attitude. Here is another essential tip for pregnant women: enjoy this period in all its unicity, listen to your body, and welcome every change that you are about to experience.