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Q&A

Babies + Kids

Babywearing 101: The benefits of carrying your baby!

Recently I attended the Canadian Babywearing School (CBS) Educators course in Milton, Ontario. As a pediatric chiropractor, I am often asked about how to correctly wear a baby in a carrier or wrap, as well as addressing any concerns from parents about positioning and comfort.

Personally, I wore both Rosie and William when they were teeny tiny! William still loves to be worn and often drifts into a pleasant slumber when we are out and about as he nestles into his wrap.

Here are a few FAQ’s I often receive about carrying your baby!

Q. What exactly does it mean to baby wear?

The term “baby wearing” has been used to describe the ancient and recently revived custom of carrying infants in cloth carriers on a parent’s body. Although it has been gaining popularity in western society, many cultures around the world have been using this method of baby transport for centuries.

PS It should actually be called baby carrying instead of the commonly used term baby wearing (we try not to think of babies as accessories lol!)

Q. What are some of the benefits of babywearing or baby carrying?

There are numerous benefits both parent and infant:

  • It’s been shown that infants who are carried are generally calmer because all of their primal/survival needs are met. Their caregiver can be seen, heard, smelled, touched and provide feeding if needed.
  • “Skin to skin” contact is maintained and a strong bond between baby and parent is established.
  • Constant motion and rhythm has a balancing and soothing effect on infants resulting in less crying and fussing overall.
  • Carrying baby offers parents practicality and freedom to multi-task while attending to their little one – a more “hands-free” approach. Many moms master the art of babywearng and breastfeeding at the same time!
  • From a chiropractic perspective, it is also a safer, back saving alternative to lugging around a heavy, bulky car seat.

Q. How do I safely wear my baby?

There are correct and incorrect ways to wear your baby and certain safety precautions must be considered.

Each carrier, wrap or sling should have an instruction booklet – read these carefully before using with baby.

Here are a few more guidelines and safety basics:

  • Check your sling, carrier or wrap for wear and tear before every use. Look for ripped seams, torn straps and damaged hardware.
  • Keep baby’s face in view and baby’s head close enough for you to kiss. Remember – “Visable and Kissable”
  • Always keep slings and carriers snug
  • Keep baby’s chin off of their chest to maintain a clear airway
  • Make sure baby’s legs aren’t bunched up against their stomach
  • Support baby’s back and keep their tummy and chest against yours
  • Do not wear baby while cooking or working with sharp or hot objects
  • Do not ride a bicycle while wearing baby

Remember to keep your baby visible and kissable at all times.

Q. What should I consider when buying a sling, carrier or wrap?

For parents who choose to baby wear, there are many factors to consider when deciding what type of carrier to use. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Choose a model that has detailed, easy-to-understand instructions. Keep them for future use.
  • It’s always great to try a product before buying. There are some great shops that specialize in baby wearing and offer one on one help – see below for recommendations.
  • Check with the retailer or manufacturer to make sure the carrier or sling meets all safety requirements and standards.

Here are a few more resources:

  1. Carry Me Close Babywearers is a Toronto-based non-profit organization committed to offering advice on babywearing. They have a meetings once a month in Toronto. Find them here.
  2. Health Canada has a babywearing resource page offering safe guidelines.
  3. Little Zen One is a great little shop in Toronto’s East End that offers 1-on-1 consultations to help you find the right carrier.

Remember like any skill, baby wearing can take a bit of practice but the benefits for baby and caregiver are amazing!

Questions about baby wearing or infant development? Feel free to contact me!

xo

Dr Aliya

 

Pregnancy

Chiropractic Care in Pregnancy: Q & A

My friend, mommy blogger and soon-to-be-mama Jessica Glaze popped into The Toronto Yoga Mamas studio last week. Jessica is mama to Carter and Monroe and is expecting her third little one in the next couple of weeks! She’s definitely got a glow on but she knows that being a mom to 2 let alone 3 babes isn’t an easy feat! We did a chiropractic treatment on her to get her feeling good and ready for baby #3.

In light of her visit, I thought I would answer some frequently asked questions about receiving chiropractic care during pregnancy that I receive from many of my pregnant or soon-to-be pregnant mamas.

Q. What are the benefits of receiving chiropractic care during my pregnancy?

Pre-existing and often unnoticed imbalances in the pelvis and spine become stressed during pregnancy.  In addition, the weight of a growing uterus has a tendency to change a woman’s biomechanics, shifting the center of gravity and putting pressure on joints of the hips, pelvis and lower back. These things make everyday activity increasingly difficult for a pregnant woman.

Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can relieve and even prevent the common discomforts experienced in pregnancy.  Specific adjustments (such as the Webster technique) eliminate the causes of stress in the spine.

Here are some specific benefits of receiving prenatal chiropractic care:

  • Decreasing back and pelvic discomfort and pain
  • Increasing the ease in which the body adapts to the natural changes related to pregnancy
  • Aligning the pelvis and lumbar spine allows for optimal baby positioning and growth
  • Shorter labour and delivery times after pelvis and spine are in correct alignment
  • Reported greater ease and comfort during birthing, reduced need for pain relief medication and medical intervention (forceps, vacuum) during childbirth

Q. Is chiropractic safe during pregnancy?

Chiropractic care is absolutely safe through all trimesters of pregnancy as early as the first month and does not harm the growing fetus in any way. Special pregnancy pillows, wedges and supports are used during treatment to ensure you are comfortable and relaxed.

jessica glaze 2

 

Q. Will the treatment be painful?

Not at all! Prenatal chiropractic care involves the Webster Technique.

The Webster Technique is a gentle yet specific chiropractic adjustment designed to help ease the symptoms of an unbalanced pelvis and misaligned spine.  The goal of treatment is to reduce the effects of sacral subluxation and SI Joint dysfunction.  In so doing, the biomechanical function of the pelvis is improved. In addition, we will spend some time releasing tight muscles and ligaments in the areas of the body that are holding tension. You will walk away feeling like a new person!

Q. Can chiropractic help turn breech babies?

Using the Webster Technique, a chiropractor may gently open up and align the pelvis as well as release any tension in the ligaments of the uterus, allowing baby space or room to move into the proper head down position naturally. If the baby is in correct position, the technique also helps to maintain that ideal positioning leading up to delivery.

The Webster Technique has been found to have an 82% success rate in clinical studies for breech babies (JMPT July/August 2002).

 Q. I’m pregnant! When can I start receiving chiropractic care?

Congratulations!

You can start receiving care as soon as you would like! There isn’t a specific set time to begin care. However, in my experience, the earlier – the better!

Including chiropractic care early on in your prenatal care and wellness routine will only help keep you feeling amazing throughout your pregnancy! Many mamas that are under my care during their pregnancies (and beyond!) report significant improvements in their sleep, quality of life and overall health and general wellness.

 

Dr. Visram is incredible! Her enthusiasm and warmth makes you comfortable instantly. It was my first time going to a chiro and I went due to back pain for pregnancy. I went from hardly being able to sit at my desk to being totally pain free! She takes extra time with each patient to make sure that you are comfortable and at ease. She is a great source of information for pregnancy related health and wellness!” – J.V

“I’ve been seeing Dr. Aliya throughout the third trimester of my pregnancy. I have avoided back aches and discomfort by seeing her once a week. I actually never thought in a million years I would feel this good in my final weeks. I’m so grateful to Dr. Aliya for her wisdom, caring nature and knowledge. My baby is in a good position too, and I’m sure that’s because of having regular treatments. – J. M

 

 

 

 

Babies + Kids

Q&A: Do babies really need shoes?

Q. Is it true that babies need to wear shoes when learning to walk to help their feet develop normally?

A. This is a very popular question parents often ask.  The answer is a simple no.  Babies do not need shoes to help their feet develop or even to help them learn to stand or walk.

Although tiny high-tops and little Mary Janes are adorable, they don’t actually help support the feet when walking.  In fact, they become more of a hindrance when practicing walking skills.

At birth, a baby’s foot is comprised of cartilage – firm but flexible connective tissue that eventually forms into bone around 5 years of age.  This results in a foot that is very flexible.  Walking barefoot will encourage that flexibility and allow baby’s tiny foot muscles to develop and strengthen properly.  Having good flexibility is important for the normal development of the arch of the foot.  Going shoeless will also help babies gain balance and co-ordination without tripping over cumbersome footwear.

Walking barefoot will encourage flexibility and allow baby’s tiny foot muscles to develop and strengthen

At this age, the only real purpose of a shoe would be to protect their tiny tootsies from hot, rough, sharp or splintered surfaces.  If the floor or surface is chilly, have your wee one walk around in soft-soled, flexible baby shoes or even socks.  Flexible shoes will help mimic the natural flexibility of the foot.

Here are a few of my favourite baby friendly footwear choices:

Minimocs

Minimoc moccasins have a soft-soled flexible bottom made of suede which make them great non-slip footwear.  Not to mention they come in fabulous colours and are handmade in Canada.

Robeez

Robeez soft-sole shoes are perfect for growing feet with a stretch elastic on both sides that allows the shoe to fit snugly but won’t leave marks of baby’s feet.  They are machine washable and tumble-dry as well!

Pediped

Pediped shoes are a comfortable shoe for baby with a roomy toebox so feet can move, grip and feel the floor.  The sole has now been updated with a new diamond treat making them more slip resistant.

Read my Q&A expert column and get amazing mama and baby advice & resources at BabyPost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

Health + Wellness

Q&A: What should be on your pre-conception to do list?

Q. My partner and I are thinking about having a baby. What are the best natural steps to prepare my body for pregnancy? Should I start taking vitamins now? Can I continue to exercise?

A. Congratulations! Deciding to have a baby is an exciting time and being prepared is key.  Creating healthy habits during this “preconception period” helps minimize complications during pregnancy and delivery and gives baby the best possible start.

Now is the time to visit with your health care practitioner and schedule your preconception care. Talking about things like diet, lifestyle, medications and family history are important to prevent any future problems or difficulties for mom and baby.

Nutritionally preparing your body before trying to conceive is an ideal way to ensure you’re pregnancy-ready.  Dr. Sapna Flower, a naturopathic doctor at Restore Integrative Health, suggests taking a prenatal vitamin with at least 1 mg of folic acid (and if you’re 35 years or older, supplementing with 5 mg of folic acid) approximately 3 months before conception.

Up to 70% of fetal neural tube deformities can be prevented if sufficient levels of folic acid are taken during the earliest weeks of conception. Speaking with a naturopathic doctor about which supplements are well formulated and ways to naturally improve your chances of conceiving can help.

Lifestyle modifications, such as ceasing to smoke and avoiding alcohol are at the top of the list during the preconception period and beyond. Smoking has been shown to decrease fertility and increase the chances of having a low birthweight or premature baby. Excessive amounts of alcohol have been shown to interfere with the fetus’ ability to receive a healthy amount of oxygen needed for brain and organ development.

Exercising regularly will also ensure a healthy and happy pregnancy. An exercise plan will help to lower your risk of pregnancy related conditions such as gestational diabetes and pre-eclampsia. Eating a balanced diet and maintaining an active lifestyle will benefit your body before, during and after pregnancy.

Here are a few other “to-do’s” on your pre-conception list:

Do avoid toxic substances or infectious substances at home and at work.

Things like pesticides, solvents, mercury, lead or radiation.

Do learn your family history. 

Identifying genetic diseases in your family history before pregnancy gives your health provider a chance to talk with you about any possible risks and may refer you for genetic counseling or testing.

Do make sure your body is balanced and healthy. 

A body free of aches and pains will function optimally.  Seeking the care of a chiropractor or massage therapist will keep your body in check.

Do address any questions or concerns you have with your health care provider. 

This is an exciting time for you and it is important to be prepared and informed!

Find my Q&A Expert column and other amazing pregnancy and baby advice at BabyPost.com

(Original post at babypost.com)

 

Pregnancy

Q&A: Should I get a Midwife or a Doula?

Q. I’m pregnant with my first baby and a friend of mine suggested I hire a doula for labour and delivery. What exactly is the difference between a midwife and a doula?

A.  Although a midwife and a doula may seem very similar in their approach toward childbirth, their roles differ quite significantly.

In Canada, midwives are trained and licensed medical professionals providing care to women during pregnancy, labour and delivery.

Doulas are not health care providers, but instead offer guidance as well as physical and emotional support to the mother and her partner during the pre and post-natal periods as well as during childbirth. She provides physical support to the labouring mother including gentle massage, guided breathing and positional support. A doula often provides education and information to the couple so that they can make informed choices in their birthing experience.

Here are few things your midwife will do:

  • Run prenatal tests and monitor your health and the baby’s health during pregnancy, birth and post-partum period
  • Prescribe maternal health related supplements or medications
  • Perform physical examinations
  • Consult with an obstetrician (OB) if a medical complication comes up which is out of the midwifery scope
  • Do their best to help you experience a comfortable birth

Here are a few things your doula will do:

  • Give you information about medical examinations and procedures (but cannot perform these procedures)
  • Establish a pre-natal relationship with you and help you figure out your “birth plan”
  • Help keep you and your partner feeling calm and supported during labour
  • Use a variety of tools and techniques to help you manage the intense physical sensations of labour and birth
  • Ensure you feel comfortable and confident communicating your needs to your health care provider
  • Provide any post-partum help and support

Although doulas do not provide medical care, research has shown that having a doula present throughout birth decreases the likelihood of using medical interventions such as instrument-assisted births (forceps, vacuum extraction) and c-section births. Furthermore, women who use doulas report having more positive feelings about their childbirth experience.

Research shows that having a doula present throughout birth decreases the likelihood of using medical interventions.

Many women often choose to have a midwife and a doula supporting them through labour and childbirth providing a perfect complement of knowledge, care and comfort for the mama-to-be.

Recently I became a Doula after taking the DONA International Doula Course at The Toronto Yoga Mamas.  A few weeks ago, I attended my first birth and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life!  If you have any questions about doulas or my role as a doula, please feel free to send me a message at hello@draliya.ca.

Find my Q&A expert column and other great mama and baby advice & resources at babypost.com.

(Original post at babypost.com)

(Photo by babypost.com)

 

 

Babies + Kids

Fevers: Friend or Foe?

A few months ago, my 14 month old daughter Rose woke up in the middle of the night with a fever. She went to bed easily and a few hours later, she was awake, crying and heating up. Her temperature was 103°F and rising. Like any parents, my husband and I were both worried. However, as a chiropractor treating many infants and children, I know that fevers are a part of our body’s healthy immune response. But that didn’t stop us from being slightly panicked anyway.

Many parents misinterpret the dangers of a high fever and believe they should be suppressed immediately, at all costs. We often confuse fever with being a sign of illness instead of a sign of our normal immune response. In fact, fevers are one of the body’s natural and effective protective mechanisms. Temperatures between 100° and 104° F (37.8° – 40° C) are generally a sign of functioning immune system and are good for sick children helping their bodies fight infections.

Here are a few fever related questions I often get asked by parents:

Q.  When should I be concerned about my child’s fever?

A. Children can be warm for many reasons – they are basically giving off heat. Generally their temperatures should be back within normal ranges within 10 to 20 minutes. Normal ranges vary depending on the way the temperature was taken (eg. rectal, ear, oral, axillary).

Here are the guidelines for parents to seek medical attention when their infant or child has a fever (using the rectal or ear method of taking temperatures):

    • Infants 0-3 months with a temperature higher than 100.4°F (or 38°C); parents should seek care immediately and continue to breastfeed often while waiting for care.
    • Children 3-36 months with a temperature higher than 102.2°F (39°C), if they appear ill. Breastfeeding often while waiting for care.
    • Children older than 36 months with a temperature higher than 104.5°F (40.3°C)

For children not in the above three categroies, bed rest and fluids will support the fever and allow it to do the job that your child needs it to do.

Q. What are febrile seizures and are they harmful?

A. Febrile seizures are convulsions brought on by a fever in infants or small children. During a febrile seizure, a child often loses consciousness or shakes, moving limbs on both sides of the body. Seizures are very scary to watch but are over rather quickly and do not cause permanent harm.

An article in the medical journal, Neurology, concluded that most febrile seizures do not adversely affect global measures of intelligence, nor do they harm more specific functions such as memory in children older than 1 year of age.

Q. My child has a low grade fever. Should I give her some medication to reduce it? 

A. Most parents, myself included, want to do everything we can to help our children feel better. However in the case of a fever, the best medicine is to support the fever and let it run its course. A fever of 102°F to 103°F is considered the optimal defense against microbes.

Supporting your child’s fever means keeping him or her comfortable and resting. Offering plenty of fluids and keeping them cool by removing layers. Don’t force food. Generally children have reduced appetites when fighting infections – let her determine when and what she eats. Keep in mind, sugary foods often delay the natural immune response.

Medication is not always needed to reduce a child’s temperature. In fact, the best reason for giving your child medicine is not to reduce the fever, but to relieve any aches and pains.

Here is the American Academy of Pediatrics advice to parents as found on their website:

“Fevers generally do not need to be treated with medication unless your child is uncomfortable or has a history of febrile convulsions. The fever may be important in helping your child fight the infection”

Remember moms and dads: Fever is one of the good guys.

Suppressing a fever will only delay your child’s natural immune response to help fight the infection. Instead supporting a fever will help your child feel better, faster!

And we all want happy, healthy babies after all!

 

 

References:

Neurology (July 10 2001; 57:7-8, 37-42)

www.mercola.com (Dr. Mercola)

www.aap.org (American Academy of Pediatrics)

(graphic www.magicmum.com)

 

Babies + Kids

Your infant sleep questions…ANSWERED!

As a new mom, I remember spending endless early morning hours searching the internet in the hopes of finding the miracle that would help my little girl sleep through the night! Or even sleep a 6 hour stretch!  I know I’m not alone!  On every new parents mind is – SLEEP! When will my baby sleep through the night? What do I do to help?  Countless articles and books have been written around the subject of Infant Sleep.

Last year, when I was awake at 4 am researching the matter on the internet I came across Catherine Wright – sleep consultant extraordinaire and owner of Motherhand, offering supportive sleep coaching. Her approach and philosophy surrounding sleep is integrative and intuitive allowing parents the space to use a variety of sleep solutions and embracing all parenting styles.

We asked Catherine some of our frequently asked sleep questions – here’s what she had to say.

Q: When is a good time to start sleep training?

A: There is a wonderful book called Bedtiming, by Marc Lewis and Isabela Granic, which gives parents an overview of optimum ‘windows’ for making modifications around an infant or child’s sleep, based on where they are at developmentally.

The 5.5 – 7.5 month window is considered a good time for sleep coaching. At this age, babies are naturally starting to consolidate overnight sleep (and so we’re simply finding ways to nudge the process along). Developmentally, they tend to be focused on tactility, and more interested in exploring the edges of a sleep sack, or grasping for comfort buddy, than tracking parents’ whereabouts.

Because separation anxiety and social referencing tends to peak around the 9-month mark, this is not an ideal time to make big changes around a baby’s sleep.

The 5.5-7.5 month window is considered a good time for sleep coaching

Q: When is it too early to sleep train?

A: Of course, there are differing opinions on this.

Internal, biological forces like melatonin production (a sleepy hormone) and the development of the circadian rhythm start kicking-in around the 4-month mark, totally transforming the sleep landscape for a baby. It’s helpful to wait until these processes are underway, before helping a baby learn to fall asleep and resettle more independently (introducing new sleep associations and moving away from bouncing, holding or feeding a baby to sleep).

Some pediatricians and sleep experts feel babies as young as 2-3 months are ready to ‘sleep train’. In my experience, this is not always the case. I prefer to wait until a baby is 5 months before starting sleep coaching – parents can see marked changes very quickly, and changes tend to ‘stick’ at this age, when parents are consistent.

Sleep foundations should be solidly rooted before parents start with any sleep coaching method. Without foundations in place, parents often get frustrated or stressed because they aren’t seeing results, tears are not easing off as they’d hoped, or, if they have initial success, it starts to unravel within a few weeks.

Q: What is sleep shaping?

A: I think of sleep shaping as the gentle steps parents can take, starting on day one, to set their baby up for long term, healthy sleep. Sleep shaping is mindful of a baby’s developmental age and stage, and how the sleep ‘puzzle’ comes together over time.   Sleep shaping is essentially laying down the ‘sleep foundations’:

  • Ensuring baby’s health, nutrition and emotional wellbeing is in check
  • Creating a healthy sleep environment for baby
  • Cultivating simple routines around baby’s naps and bedtime
  • Ensuring baby is getting enough daytime and nighttime sleep for his age (being mindful of not overstretching wakeful periods during the day)
  • Establishing (fairly) non-variable wake-up and bed times

Once foundations are in place and baby is old enough, parents can start to teach their baby how to fall asleep with less intervention by giving them new associations around sleep which support self-settling.

Sleep shaping are the gentle steps parents can take, starting on day one, to set their baby up for long term, healthy sleep

Q: Will my baby ever sleep through the night?

A: Yes! When sleep foundations are in place this often unfolds organically, when baby is ready. There is also a huge range within ‘normal’ when it comes to overnight waking patterns in the first year of life, but most healthy babies are quite capable of this by 6 months (many earlier).

Don’t forget that all babies and toddlers wake frequently at night! The difference between a baby who is ‘sleeping through’ and a baby who is still waking at night is that the baby who is ‘sleeping through’ has learned some sleep skills which allow him to resettle on his own when he wakes and doesn’t have an immediate need.

For parents who want to be more proactive around nudging their baby in this direction, they’d first want to ensure sleep foundations are in place, and then find a sleep coaching method that fits with their parenting style, household set up, and their baby’s temperament and age.

It possible to embark on sleep coaching while respecting that a baby still may need to feed overnight.

sleeping baby 1

Q: How about bedtime routines?

A: Sleep routines are possibly the most important sleep foundation for babies, toddlers and adults.

Wind-down routines offer babies a transition between ‘awake time’ and falling asleep – it is the predictability around routines that sets sleep in motion. Instilling routines early on makes it easier to help a baby learn to settle more independently, down the road.

Here are a few key ingredients for a bedtime wind-down routine:

  • Doing relatively the same low-key activities in the same order each evening before your child’s intended bedtime (bath, PJs, cuddles and books, lullaby, bed).
  • Turning off all screens in the home and dimming lights
  • Darkening baby’s sleep space (as dark as you can get it!)
  • Using a bedtime lullaby or ‘sleepy mantra’ around settling baby into sleep
  • Ending the routine ends in baby’s sleep space

Parents can start with a short, simple routine and build upon it as their baby gets older. Using continuous ‘white noise’ around wind-down routines and overnight can be incredibly helpful in the first year of baby’s life.

Wind-down routines offer babies a transition between ‘awake time’ and falling asleep

Q: What else can parents do to help with the sleep training process?

A: It’s essential to consider a baby’s health, nutrition and emotional wellbeing before starting on a sleep coaching plan. If a baby’s birth experience was traumatic in any way, if baby has had a history of reflux, colic, or difficulty latching or feeding – chiropractic care is tremendously beneficial and will support the changes parents are making towards improving their child’s sleep.

By optimizing baby’s nervous system (neural communication) and assisting any restrictions in his body, chiropractic treatments often make the sleep learning journey a much smoother process.

chiropractic treatments often make the sleep learning journey a much smoother process

Q: How would you know if your baby or toddler is a good candidate for sleep coaching?

A:

  • You have a 6-month baby (or older) who is waking frequently at night and having trouble resettling.
  • Bedtime is routinely a drawn out process, or fraught with tears or lots of protesting.
  • Your baby is 6 months or older and has very unpredictable routines around sleep.
  • You feel your baby or child is chronically not getting enough restorative sleep during the day or at night.
  • You’ve made sacrifices to accommodate your baby or child’s sleep but are now so exhausted your day-to-day life is affected and you’re not sure about the best way forward.
  • You have multiple children and are struggling to find peaceful routines around helping them to sleep in a way that works for your family.
  • Your baby is no longer a newborn but you are all sleeping like he is.
  • You simply want support around creating new routines for the way your family sleeps.

If you have any other questions or would like to speak with Catherine, visit her website at www.motherhand.com.  You won’t be sorry you did!