The Wonder Weeks Blog #4: What the BLEEP do babies know?

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiHave you ever seen the movie, What the Bleep Do We Know? If not… do so! The way they explain the basics of quantum physics is quite similar to the way I explain how babies’ brains change dramatically every so often and why they can’t perceive certain things before each change in The Wonder Weeks.

In What the Bleep Do We Know?, they explain to us that the Native Americans couldn’t perceive Columbus’ boats at the horizon. Why? Not because they had problems with their vision, but because the boats at the horizon were so very different from anything they had ever seen before.

With babies, it is a little like this, too. If their brains are not yet wired to perceive something that we adults can see, then that something isn’t there as far as the babies are concerned. Of course, there are huge differences between the Native Americans not perceiving the boats and babies being unable to perceive certain things, but the basic idea is the same.

After years of studies, we found out that babies go through 10 mental developmental leaps in their first 20 months of life, and after each leap they perceive the world around them in a totally different way. That frightens them and that is why they get fussy for a while! The bad news is that such periods are very difficult for both parents and babies and they are characterized by the three C’s: Clingy, Cranky and Crying.

And now the good news: We know exactly when these periods start, what babies are able to perceive and learn after each leap and why babies can suddenly do and understand ten times more than before each leap.

image What The BLEEPThe 10 new types or levels of perception that are given to your baby at predictable ages are arranged hierarchically. Each new higher level of perception is superimposed onto the lower levels of perception that are present already. If your baby has reached only the fifth level of perception, that level is on top. Also the peak experiences for your baby are things that we adults take for granted. Every Wonder Week leap enables your baby to perceive the world more in the way we adults do; every leap brings your baby one step closer. So, the younger your baby is, the more difficult it is for us as parents to descend to our babies’ way of looking at the world. But, it is crucial that we try. If you succeed, you can understand and better able to deal with things such as:

•           Sleeping problems

•           Cranky, Crying and Clingy phases

•           Separation anxiety

•           Temper tantrums

And so on…

The best solution to all these problems is to know and be aware of how your baby perceives the world. Basically, to Know What the Bleep Babies Know…

Meet Xaviera Plas-Plooij at BabyExpo Berkshire and hear more about The Wonder Weeks!

www.thewonderweeks.com

The Wonder Weeks Blog #3: One of the reasons mothers stop breastfeeding?

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiIt’s not your imagination– all babies go through a difficult period around the same age. Research by Dr. Frans Plooij Ph.D. and Dr. Hetty van de Rijt Ph.D., has shown that babies make 10 major, predictable, age-linked changes – or leaps – during the first 20 months of their lives taking place around weeks 5, 8, 12, 19, 26, 37, 46, 55, 64 and 75.  During this time, they will learn more than in any other time.  With each leap comes a drastic change in your baby’s mental development, which not only affects his mood, his health, sleeping patterns and the “three C’s” (crying, clinging and crankiness) but also… baby’s drinking and comfort seeking habits.  Unfortunately these Wonder Weeks are often a reason for mums who do not know about these wonder weeks, to stop breast-feeding their child.

With every new wonder week a baby gets a totally new perception of the world.  Every Wonder Week is like waking up on a strange planet.  A baby did not ask for this, did not see it coming, but suddenly this whole new world was there.  What would you do?  You would retreat to a well-known and safe place.  For a baby that is mum.  How would you do that?  By literally clinging to your mum.  Being one with her, holding on tight and the best way to do that would be via literally sucking yourself to your mum.  This is where breast-feeding and Wonder Weeks meet.  Whilst on the one hand Wonder Weeks are in fact something good and signal progress in development, on the other hand, when the Wonder Weeks are misunderstood, they are often the reason mums give up breastfeeding.

Breastfeeding“My daughter was crying so much that I was afraid something was terribly wrong.  She wanted to breastfeed constantly.  I took her to see the paediatrician, but he couldn’t find anything wrong with her.  He said she just needed to get used to my milk and that many infants went through a similar crying phase at 5 weeks.  I thought that was a strange thing to say, because she hadn’t had any problems with my milk until then.  Her cousin, who was the same age, kept crying, too, but he was being bottle-fed.  When I told the doctor that, he pretended he hadn’t heard, I didn’t push the subject though . I found out about wonder weeks later on, but I keep on wondering why nobody told me about these wonder weeks earlier.  ” Julitte’s mum, 5th week

Wonder Weeks and the milk doubting mums:

As the baby gets more Clingy, Cries more and is more Cranky during a wonder week, many mothers start doubting themselves.  Are they doing something wrong?  If a baby wants to drink so often, does this mean they do not have enough milk?  Or is their milk not good enough?  Mums who know their baby is in a wonder week, don’t doubt themselves or their milk.

“Around the third wonder week my daughter suddenly started nursing less.  After 5 minutes, she would start playing around with my nipple.  After that had gone on for two weeks, I decided to start supplementing my milk with formula, but she wouldn’t have any of that either.  This phase lasted 4 weeks.  During that time I worried she would suffer from some kind of nutrition deficiency, especially when I saw my milk supply starting to diminish.  But now she is drinking like she used to again, and my milk supply is as plentiful as ever.  Now I know this is normal behavior during a wonder week. I never doubted my milk again since I know when these wonder weeks are.” Hannah’s mum, 19th week.

Wonder Weeks and the exhausted mums:

Even the mums not doubting their milk sometimes give up breastfeeding.  Simply because the impact of the leap on the behavior of their child is wearing them out.  The mums that know about Wonder Weeks tend to be less exhausted as they know what is happening and that Wonder Weeks are actually a good thing.

Wonder Weeks and the mum of a six month old:

One of the most difficult leaps is the one of relationships, around six months after due date.  The exact same time breast milk alone is not enough anymore and most parents start to give solid food as well.  Mum is exhausted from the leap, doesn’t sleep or sleeps very poorly, while at the same time her child needs food.  Just days after giving the first ‘meals’, the baby is in a much better mood.  Often mums explain this whole sequence of events wrongly and seem to think their child was in need of other milk than theirs.  While in fact the child just went through another leap and finished the leap when he turned six months.

Wonder Weeks and nipple cracks or abrasions:

Pain is, logically, one of the reasons mums want to stop feeding their child.  When a child is in a Wonder Week he wants to drink many times more often than is normally the case. As this is one of the only times a baby is quiet, a mum doesn’t really pay as much attention to the feeding process as she normally would and this can often result in the wrong feeding positions resulting in discomfort for mum.

Making parents aware of Wonder Weeks will enable parents to understand their baby’s behavior much better and will help many mums to continue feeding their child and to make sure these Wonder Weeks are not a reason to give up.

Meet Xaviera Plas-Plooij at BabyExpo Berkshire and hear more about The Wonder Weeks!

www.thewonderweeks.com

The Wonder Weeks: How Your Baby’s Brain Grows

Logo_TheWonderWeeks_300dpiNature is a remarkable thing.  I am sure, as new parents, you have already experienced this. But the innate abilities babies are born with never stops amazing me.

When a baby is born it is perfectly capable of sensing “what”, for example hot, cold, loud and bright, and “how much”.  A baby placed on its mother’s tummy will root around, searching for more warmth until it finds the hottest spot – the nipple.  It may take the better part of an hour but the test has been done!

The “how much” perception may even precede birth; we call it “intensity”.  The “what kind” perceptions comes a little later — we call them “sensations”.

Sometimes I am asked what I mean when we say “mental development” and “leaps in mental development” when it comes to describing what’s happening inside your baby’s head.  From a scientific perspective we mean the natural growth of the brain and entire nervous system, from a few neurons making connections in the embryo all the way to the fully functioning brain and nervous system of an adult.  Just like the various physical parts of the body, the brain grows, adds new functionality and matures.  As it does, in stages, on nature’s schedule, the cranium grows, neurons are added and successively higher perceptual functions emerge.

This is what is happening with every leap… more functionality, more skills to learn and master.

We know with indisputable certainty that all babies, no matter what, make 10 major, predictable, age-linked changes – or leaps – during their first 20 months of life.  With each leap comes a drastic change in your baby’s mental development but this development can also manifest itself as poor sleep, bad appetite, crying, clinging and crankiness.  It is hard on your baby and exhausting and frustrating for mum and dad.

Why?  Well, each leap sets the stage for the subsequent development of skills.  Suddenly your baby can think, feel, notice and understand what is happening around him in a new way.  These new, higher levels of perception begin to emerge one after the other in rapid-fire and, amazing as this is, it is also scary for the baby.  These cognitive changes can influence what the baby can do and how he behaves. That is why, before he is comfortable exploring his new abilities, a baby often cries more, is more clingy and crankier.

image_How_Your_Baby_Brain_Grows[1]You see, each stage or period of mental development described here is accompanied by an initial period of confusion as neural connections in the brain are rearranged.  To your baby, this is bewildering.  He’s taken aback — everything has changed overnight.  It is as if he has woken up on a strange planet.  In each case your baby seeks reassurance, which means “back to mama”.  Your baby will cling, cry and get cranky.  The clingy periods alert and worry you as parents, resulting in more intensive care giving and interaction with your baby.  This facilitates the new learning and helps your baby to make the leap into the new world.

When parents understand, even before these periods occur, what each of these developments mean for a baby’s understanding of the world around him and how he uses this understanding to develop the new skills he needs at each stage of his development, they can use this understanding of their baby’s developmental leaps to help him through these often confusing times in his very new life.  They will be able to understand better the way their baby is thinking and why he acts as he does at certain times. They will be able to give the right kind of help, when needed, and the right kind of environment to help him make the most of every leap in his development.

Meet Xaviera Plas-Plooij at BabyExpo Berkshire and hear more about The Wonder Weeks!

More information: www.thewonderweeks.com

Enjoy some extra comfort for your bump!

The FittaMamma range was conceived to meet the needs of women who want to stay fit and active during their pregnancy – but the clothes are so comfortable and supportive that more and more mums-to-be are discovering their value as an essential part of their everyday wardrobe.

FittaMamma say: ‘We wanted to create clothes that provide positive support for bump, back and boobs, lifting the weight in much the same way a sports bra lifts and holds. The original idea was to make a range for pregnant women to wear for exercise but we’ve discovered a real need amongst expectant mums to find clothes that ease the weight of the bump and make everyday life more comfortable.’

The current FittaMamma range offers a unique level of support for pregnant women that will last after you’ve had your baby too – they are seriously good news if you’ve had a C-section!

Best of all the range doesn’t sacrifice style for functionality – it looks fantastic and comes in an attractive and useful range of colours. Sling on a jacket and a chunky necklace and you could easily wear the tops to work – or wear the leggings under a dress or a long top to enjoy the extra comfort and still looking fantastic.

So how does it work?

The FittaMamma ‘High Support’ top features a unique back panel that spreads the weight onto your back and shoulders where you are naturally stronger, easing the weight of the bump. In addition the wide, firm waistband sits neatly around your hips and pelvis, providing additional support and helping combat the discomfort of pregnancy-loosened joints.

The Mamma Support top is ruched to fit around your bump and offers positive but more gentle support, whilst the extra wide and stretchy panel at the top of all FittaMamma leggings, Capri pants and shorts will hold your tummy secure as well.

FittaMamma also make a longer length ‘Gentle Support’ vest top that is ideal for yoga, Pilates or everyday wear that is designed to work throughout your pregnancy without riding up when you stretch out or leaving an uncomfortable breeze gap at the bottom of your bump.

The clothes are created in soft, natural fabrics that contain ‘CoolDry’ moisture management technology to help keep you fresh during any activity, again a bonus for pregnant women who often find their core body temperature rises. Super-stretchy elastane content means the FittaWear tops expand as your bump gets bigger, continuing to look good throughout your pregnancy and regaining their shape so you can wear them after your baby is born too.

And if you do decide to keep the clothes just for exercise, looking good whilst you work out is a great motivator!

www.fittamamma.com or call 01444 876900 or see us on Stand 176 at BabyExpo Brighton

 

Can Chiropractric care help you during pregnancy?

Rebecca Nicholas is a chiropractor practising at Back 2 Balance chiropractic clinic in Brighton and Hove. She has a very special interest in pregnancy related back pain and paediatrics. Over the last 10 years she has completed many extra courses/ seminars and certifications showing her commitment in helping pregnant women with chiropractic care. Continue reading

Relax, move and breathe for a healthier pregnancy and easier labour!

Lazy Daisy offers Pregnancy and Baby classes inspired by movement, massage and relaxation.

For mums-to-be, Daisy Birthing’s unique active birth education is designed to make confident birth 2nd nature, whilst Daisy Baby classes help you understand how to use massage and calming techniques to soothe your new baby.

You probably know that breathing, movement and relaxation all have benefits in both pregnancy and labour, but some of these may surprise you …

Relaxation

During pregnancy, being relaxed helps to keep blood pressure low, encourages the release of endorphins and enables you to physically relax your ligaments, muscles and skeleton.

Relaxation also helps to keep adrenalin levels low. This is essential during labour because adrenalin sends your body into fight or flight, which causes the diversion of blood to the organs essential for survival and therefore away from your uterus. This limits its supply of oxygen, inhibiting the uterine muscle from working effectively and making birthing much more difficult.

Adrenalin also inhibits the production of both oxytocin (your contraction hormone), which can cause labour to stall and of endorphins (your natural pain relieving hormones – 200 times the strength of morphine!).

Movement

Movement helps to strengthen key muscles in your body. This helps prepare your body to carry the growing weight of your baby as well as being physically prepared for labour.

During pregnancy movement can be used effectively to influence your baby’s position bringing them into the optimal birth position. In labour, by utilising upright positions and movements which enable your body to engage with gravity, you can encourage dilation of your cervix and help keep your contractions regular so you birth as efficiently as possible.

Breathing

Breathing oxygenates your blood, which then carries that oxygen to the structures in your body that require it to function effectively. During pregnancy that oxygen is, importantly, carried to the placenta and your baby. During labour, it is important to continue that flow of oxygen to baby, but it’s also essential to oxygenate the key birthing muscle – your uterus. When muscles are well oxygenated they work easily, tire less quickly and feel comfortable!