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Stay-at-home dads, househusband (plus many other synonymous) are terms that indicate a father who is the caregiver of the family. To make a long story short, he has tasks which are usually considered as prerogatives of women. In the past it was normal to consider the mother as the only person capable of taking care of the children while the father had to provide the economical sustain; as a consequence of this, it was also considered normal for the children to see their dads just in the evening, when they were back from their work. Nowadays, many factors brought a shift of roles inside families: women want to pursue their careers and they’re still fighting for salary equality. At the same time, men don’t perceive anymore (or, at least, most of them) that earning less than their wives make them less powerful in a relationship. So, here are the househusbands! Their numbers have been increasing since around the end of the 20th century, especially in developed Western nations. Not only this fact can tell us a lot about how the society is positively evolving, about how sexism and gender gaps are being reduced (unfortunately, they haven’t disappeared and they are still a big deal in many countries and work environments), but it can let us discover something about men and fathers that we didn’t know. In fact, if women still have to prove that they are capable of holding top job positions, the same could be said of the presumption that men are less able to look after children than women. Instead, let’s try to see this from another point of view: fighting gender gaps should be a two-way street with no prejudices. If a man is willing to take care of his children and his house, he should be free to do that; some people could think that he’s just lazy and he’s profiting about his wife’s high salary, maybe because he’s a freelancer or he can work from home, but this would definitely be sexist. By leaving out our initial impression, we can learn a lot from this category of men (and maybe stop labelling and analysing them as aliens). Here we have some examples. They can take care of kids as well as women and, if they can’t, it is because nobody ever asked them to learn. In the majority of the families, nobody ask them to do the house work. This doesn’t mean that is too late for them to learn now! Some men can deal with children better than women. Who said that empathy and sensitivity are characteristics stronger in women? Stop with the biases! If they have time to listen to their children, by staying at home, they’re doing a great job. On the other hand some women can be excellent in executing tasks and can be fast and functional, but not particularly prone to talk about emotions. Moreover, if compared to the past, some themes are not taboo anymore. Teenagers have classes of sex education and this knowledge is more widespread than ever. So, if you are a boy you don’t need your father to have the ‘‘birds and the bees’’ talk with you. Same thing if you are a girl dealing with her menarche and your mother is rattling on about birds, bees and flowers. Parents can swap roles and if your father is a solid presence in the house, if you feel you can talk to him, well so… Yes, you can both discuss what’s happening inside your body, menstruations, safe sex, contraception and so on. Some women, instead, like to control the situation; too much. The idea that if they are absent then a catastrophe could occur makes them think that they are indispensable. This might come from a cultural heritage which wants the woman to be the only ones capable of making things function at their best. Everyone would live better just freeing themselves from these impositions. Give men a chance and let them understand that if women cannot do the house work this doesn’t make them less worthy mothers and housewives. Just because a dad doesn’t do things in the same careful, loving (sometimes obsessive) way as woman, this doesn’t mean that someone is going to die. Your daughter is not going to school with an elaborate French braid. Or her shirt doesn’t perfectly match her pants. And so? Listen to this secret: children feel anxiety more from people close to them than they do for a messy hairdo. When they will be adults, they will be more likely to reproach you for the bad vibes you sent them as kids and not for their unfashionable style. Playing with your dad is definitely funny. Moms can usually be a bit strict: they don’t want you to dirty your clothes and they don’t want to see you messy. Your dad, instead, wouldn’t care so much if you rolled in the mud: he would probably join you and in the end just bring you back home and send you to the shower still fully dressed to wash off all of the dirt and give the clothes a good cleaning too. This, of course, is a generalization: some dads can be much more careful than their female partners!
Growing up: how exhausting! Childhood is likely to be remembered as the happiest period of your life and, for many reasons, we can all agree that it’s true. You just play and stay with friends without any kind of worries for study and exams or work, love, life, family, mortgages, taxes etc. etc. However, kids have their own problems that, as the years go by, look less insignificant. But you are living that moment, some problems can look like they’re huge. When we’re young we receive the first ideas about the world from the people we trust more and we spend more time with: usually, our parents. By not being able to understand a situation in its whole complexity (because, you know, we’re still young) we can make up our own ideas and formulate our theories. It goes without saying that it is really important how a message or an idea is conveyed by our parents as well as the sensations they transmit to us. Kids are difficult from this point of view: they understand things you wish they wouldn’t but they couldn’t understand, indeed, the simplicity of other things and, so, thinking about them as big problems. For example, socializing and feeling accepted in a group is important when you’re young; probably from the primary school to the high school and even after. You can’t just say to your child that if a group of classmates don’t want to hang around with them, whatever, they will make some other friends or will stay by themselves because people are mean and real friends are few. Some children, instead, seem to be really good at making friends because since an early age they demonstrate a charismatic personality, or they can be funny or just have the quality of a leader that is not accepted in a group but they form the group and decide who’s in and who’s out. It is important to help self-confidence in our kids, as said, to help them avoid living social situations and a source of anxiety in the constant fear of not being “enough” to their friends. This feeling of insecurity, once created, will be difficult to escape from and will condition the attitude of the future adult in every situation during its life. At the same time, we have to find a balance and not just boast to our children repeating how marvellous and how fantastic they are. It is positively seen by society to have the qualities of an alpha man/woman but, just for the fact of being young, children could misunderstand and use their qualities in a negative way. You could find yourself dealing with the fact your kid is being bullied but also with the fact that he/she is the bully. Both these scenarios are unpleasant: they will lead to future problems that will prevent the child from living peacefully and happily in society. What are the best things to say as a parent? We want to infuse self-confidence and calm but also talent and intelligence. One piece of advice to give is surely to show what we would like to be emulated. If we do things with a calmness, our children will do the same; let’s not forget that they are more sensitive than what we think. The can learn and copy our methods; moreover, there are no reasons to make them paranoid about all the bad people they could meet. Just put them on guard for what concerns the real risks (“don’t accept lifts from strangers’’ or things like this) clearly explaining why that is dangerous but without going too deep in illustrating what paedophilia is, for example. Concerning other figurative risks that you might see, ask yourself if it is really fundamental to fill your child’s brain with so many worries. The answer might be: it’s not. Kids do run dangers to harm themselves when they play, when they are in the house (just think about the rate of domestic accidents)… they could bump into people with bad intentions and they need time to learn what they can do and what they can’t. So, thinking better, is it really necessary to stress them telling them about that classmate you think is envious and maybe is badmouthing them? The answer is: it’s not. We spend our entire life as adults saying that we are just what we are and we won’t change to please others. Our children should be left free to do the same. Another thing not to do as parents is to encourage too much rivalry with the other children even if there’s something that your kid is really talented at doing and wins much more than the other children. They could find out they are much weaker in other activities and they cannot always win: teach them this or the clash with the hard truth will definitely be heavy. In the end, another mistake that some parents can do is to project wishes and passions of their own on their kids that the parents themselves didn’t have the chance to pursue. If you were not allowed to sing because your parents wanted you to do sport, you can try to transmit your passion for music but if it’s not really a genetically transmitted talent, let it be. It is easier said than done, but do you really want to force your kids to do something they don’t really appreciate as your parents did with you?
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.
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?
Adopting a child is a beautiful thing and marks the beginning of a new journey for your family, yet many adopt for the wrong reasons. When adoption is chosen, and not because of necessity, the decision can be influenced by inappropriate choices. When the process does not work out, this outcome is incredibly tough on the child as well as those trying to become guardians. It is wise to think about the reasons why you may want to adopt and whether you are ready for a lifelong commitment. Here we will look at certain issues to be aware of when deciding to adopt.   Often people commit to adoption and follow through with it, even though they have serious doubts. The guilt that envelopes them because of their lack of desire to adopt causes them to continue with the plans and take in a child. Although bringing an infant into your home and offering them a better life is something to be admired, if it is not done for the right reasons it is not good for anybody. Sometimes when a child has been living in your home for a while or if you are fostering a child the guilt propels those looking after them to continue the legal proceedings for adoption. Many also feel pressured by family to become the child’s guardian. As well as this self-imposed guilt, adolescents can manipulate feelings and may attempt to guilt adults into adopting them. Foster parents may care for these children and don’t want to see them move homes again. However, if you are not 100% committed to the idea of adoption do not decide to do it. It does not make you a bad person if you don’t want to be their legal guardian. If it feels wrong do not proceed. Another common reason people choose to adopt is to save failing marriages. Unfortunately, this occurs a lot as couples think the new addition will bring them closer together. Although at the beginning it may provide a distraction from marital issues, it will not last. A child cannot fix a broken relationship and should not be asked to. They will be pulled into a messy situation while believing that they are at fault for the breakdown. Often, the adoptive parents will slowly begin to resent the infant subconsciously for not saving the relationship. Another flawed reason to explore is adoption solely because a spouse wants to. Couples must be on the same page and have an equal level of passion, or it simply will not succeed. It takes two to tango and two to raise a child. Speak with your partner, clear the air. Many chose to adopt due to their fear of an empty nest. Mothers are often concerned with the emptiness of the home and their own personal lack of direction when children grow up and move out. Their adult children are now independent of their parents and do not need much direction, often resulting in the mother’s decision to adopt. It is a suitable option for them as older mothers do not need to worry about their biological clock impacting their decision to have a child in this way. Sadly, when this is the primary catalyst for the decision to adopt, it normally does not happen. When choosing to care for a kid you must be there to provide for the child’s needs and to help them to grow in love in your home. It is not the opposite, where the child is fulfilling your needs. The work completed in adoption agencies centers on the child and the suitability of the home for them. It can seem overly thorough and strict but it is entirely necessary at moments like this when adults must study the impact the child will have in their lives and if they can deal with this to care for them effectively. Of course, not all adoptions are for the wrong reasons. Adoption agencies will assess you to see if you are prepared and suitable to adopt, but it is worth reviewing these points to ensure that you are in the right position to begin. You may want to help a child who is without a family and provide for them, which is amazing. Remember, you must accept their heritage, faith and who they are as a person. Respect their history. The child may grow to be different than what you wanted for a son or daughter, but you cannot alter someone’s personality. Don’t try to change them but instead offer them a helping hand whenever they need it. Similarly, the entire family should be on board with the adoption decision. For a child to come into a comfortable, safe home the family must be unified and enthusiastic about the process. They are gaining a sibling and must make their new brother/sister feel at home. If your biological kids aren’t on board with the idea, do not force it or proceed. If these things are not an issue, it seems like you may be ready to adopt. It is extremely rewarding to mould the little one into a better version of themselves while you pass on your life’s knowledge to them, knowing that you helped them gain a better life. They are the ones who will make your life better.
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)”.
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.
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.
At the very beginning of a pregnancy, parents may prefer not to know their baby’s gender. In fact, they would like to be surprised during their big day. Nonetheless, just a few parents-to-be are actually able to wait for nine months in order to know the sex of their child.   Even though a surprise is what most of them would love to have, couples focus on making sure that the arrival of their baby will be perfect: without knowing the sex, there are several problems to solve though. For instance, the clothes to buy, the color of the room, the type of cake to cook: just a few small details which, nonetheless, make that day become the most special moment of their lives.   Regardless of sex, having a baby is always an immense joy. Once you make sure that your baby is healthy, you can’t stop thinking about how he will look like, the best name to choose and… his sex! Human sexual differentiation is the process that determines baby’s gender. This is actually determined by baby’s genes. While eggs contain an X chromosome, sperme can have an X or a Y chromosome. According to their combination, the sex of a child is determined: a XX embryo will be a girl, whereas a XY embryo means that you are expecting a boy! If differences are not so remarkable during the first weeks of pregnancy, after week 7 the baby starts producing hormones that stimulate the development of its sexual organs. As far as girls are concerned, ovaries develop between weeks 11 and 12. For boys, on the contrary, their sexual organs start developing by week 9.   We all agree with the fact that the health of our baby is more important than his sex. So why are we so obsessed with finding out his gender? According to Daniel A. Potter, M.D., a reproductive endocrinologist at the Huntington Reproductive Center Medical Group in California, “”It’s human nature. A family without sons, whose job was to hunt and keep everyone fed, might not have survived. So offerings were made to the gods, and soothsayers were consulted. People passed on to the next generation the methods they considered most effective for guaranteeing a boy, and this inspired old wives’ tales.” Even though there are several legends aiming to help women discover their baby’s sex, just a few of them are actually true. In most of cases, it is very easy to predict the wrong sex, that’s why couples had better talk with a doctor instead of relying on popular myths. However, if you want to listen to your body and try to deduce your child’s sex, there are some tips you should know. Whereas mood swings are common to all pregnancies, other signs may tell something more specific about your baby’s gender. For example, women with higher cortisol levels are more likely to carry a girl, experts revealed. The same it goes with severe morning sickness, even though this research is still ongoing.     According to Dr. Potter, “By your fifth month, around week 18 or 19 of your pregnancy, a sonogram can show you the sex of your unborn child with about 95 percent accuracy. From a medical standpoint, we do an ultrasound to check the age, position, and health of the fetus, but most parents want to know the sex too”.   Even though these tests are never 100% right, they can help couples prepare their house for the new arrival. If the baby’s sex is very important, his health is an aspect parents-to-be should always pay attention to. Maintaining a healthy nutrition, checking the fluids you consume during pregnancy, and staying active are the best ways to go through a pregnancy. Your baby’s sex will be unveiled at another time!
Staying active is a synonym of health and wellness, that’s why it is very important to challenge your body and have an active lifestyle. Even though days can be hard when you are pregnant or you have just learnt how to be a mum, laziness and tiredness are not good excuses to stay at home on your comfortable couch all day long. Sport benefits are not only physical: staying in contact with nature and feeling at ease with your own body are the keys for a mental wellness as well. Furthermore, you will have the impression that, after pregnancy, your body has drastically changed. Sport and healthy food can help you gain self-confidence and get control of your body once again. During pregnancy, a sedentary life can be very dangerous. In fact, it can provoke several diseases, as, for instance, gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. In addition, general pains and aches related to pregnancy are more likely to be experienced.   To begin with, it may be important to walk instead of taking the bus when it is possible. The same goes for the lift: why not climbing some stairs instead of getting always the lift? This movement is helpful to stimulate the muscles of the stomach and tonify your legs.   Considering pregnancy physical conditions, it is important to avoid doing rapid mouvements or changing direction quickly. As a result, some sports are not recommended during pregnancy. For example, we are talking about rugby, skiing, horse riding, karate, and the like.   Nonetheless, this does not mean that sport is bad for you and your baby’s health. Conversely, there are several activities that can improve your mood and your physical state during pregnancy. Swimming is one of those sports that are highly recommended by doctors and professionals. Without overdoing, this activity is good for every part of your body, as well as for the development of muscles. Most people do not know that swimming can reduce morning sickness and relieve foot swelling, two conditions that affect many pregnant women.   If you like running, you can continue to train your running skills. It is important to breath in a regular way and to drink water during the activity as well. In addition, stretching 10 or 15 minutes before starting to run can be the key to avoid possible pains. Lifting weights is also a good solution. According to the article written by clinical instructor Elizabeth Yepez for First Response, “The extra progesterone in pregnancy can make your joints lax and can put you at risk of injury so take extra caution and use good technique when lifting weights. I recommend using weights at 50% of your max ability to avoid injury and strain, and never lift weights above your head or behind your neck”. When your baby joins your own world, your daily life will never be the same as before. This does not entail any negative consequences: you just have to learn how to combine your own needs with the ones of your baby.   Exercising regularly can be a good way to dedicate some time to yourself, embracing a healthy and active lifestyle. Physical activity has many other benefits: sport can strengthen your muscles, decrease the risk of postpartum depressions and urinary incontinence.   There are several aerobic classes for women who have just given birth. Apart from being healthy, this sport offers a good opportunity to socialize with new mothers and compare your feelings with them. Yoga and pilates are other alternatives, mainly if you prefer softer exercises.   You can also opt for doing activities with your baby. For instance, taking long walks is a perfect way to get some fresh air and enjoy nature with your baby. Nevertheless, it is important to start slowly, because your muscles are still weak and feeble, especially if you had a caesarean delivery. As we have already underlined, staying active is fundamental, but be careful: knowing and respecting your limits go hand in hand with your health. No matter which activity you decide to take up, you should make sure that this sport is safe and healthy. It is for this reason that talking with your doctor is necessary before making decisions during after birth.   Once you have found your own routine, staying active won’t be a challenge to achieve anymore. On the contrary, physical activity will be your daily relief and your unique way to take care of yourself, namely if you have the possibility to enjoy nature and picturesque landscapes.