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18 Feb 2015

UK invention enables dads to share breastfeeding

Today’s dads are very hands-on. They share the load, change nappies, pace the boards at 3 a.m. and want to be fully engaged with their newborn. But, when it comes to feeding, this remains firmly the mother’s domain.

Breastfeeding is undoubtedly best for baby and in the UK all new mums are encouraged to give it a go. When mum is breastfeeding, dad will find himself side lined.

Expectant couples typically plan to breastfeed and many want their partners to help out and share the experience. In principle, a mother can express her milk and put it into a bottle. However, this can be problematic. Breastfeeding and bottle-feeding are two very different activities. Many breastfed babies simply refuse to take a bottle. Those that accept a conventional vented bottle, find it so much easier to feed from that they quickly become lazy and reject the breast.  This is frustrating for women who have worked so hard to establish breastfeeding in the first place!

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If babies could talk, what would they say?

Judging by the dialogue between baby Stewie and Brian (the dog) in Family Guy, probably quite a lot. It usually takes us dumb parents at least a year to interpret our baby’s attempts to use our language and we think it is so sweet when those first recognisable words appear.

But perhaps we are underestimating our babies’ ability to communicate and they want to say much more than we can understand? Perhaps they quickly cotton-on to our inadequacies and therefore limit us to simple words, like Dada, Dog and (in the case of our youngest) ‘Bugga’ ? (Yes, we are convinced that was what she said. Clearly she was exasperated by our inability to understand her previous sentence, ‘Would one of you be so kind as to tune into the News Channel, I’m fed up with listening to these inane Teletubbies’.

So much in our adult world depends on successful communication and we are not very good at it. Misunderstandings occur even when we speak face to face. We misread body language, choose the wrong words and don't articulate what we really want to say. Personally, I think mis-communication is made worse through email, twitter and texting. Are we losing the art of proper conversation?

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Can a feeding bottle cure colic?

Your new baby is a delight; you didn’t believe it was possible to love another person this much. Until 5pm, when he starts to fuss, then cry, then scream the house down. You feed him, change his nappy, rock him, give him cuddles, but nothing makes a difference. Eventually he dozes off, only to wake five minutes later and recommence the cycle. It goes on ALL night! By morning you are exhausted, but you can’t relax – there is a baby to take care of, after all. At least for now he is happy – until 5pm…

If your baby has colic, like the estimated 20% of new-borns worldwide who now show such symptoms, life is tough, mentally and physically......

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Are parents causing childhood obesity?

It’s no secret that obesity is on the rise in the UK. The scare stories are always out there, and a walk around certain parts of Britain will paint the picture for us in no uncertain terms. We are told that fast food is to blame; that our reliance on TV and video gaming makes us fat, and that food marketing sells us the dream of highly-flavoured, high calorie processed meals and snacks. But is it really that simple?

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20 Jan 2012

Colic isn't just for babies

col·ic/╦łkälik/

Noun:

Severe, often fluctuating pain in the abdomen caused by intestinal gas or obstruction in the intestines and suffered esp. by babies.

The word colic comes from the word colon (or large intestine) and refers to gastrointestinal pain (‘belly ache’ to you and me) experienced in the abdomen from a variety of causes. 

Most of us (especially parents with babies under four months old) are familiar with infantile colic.  It is very common and is reported to affect just two out of every 10 babies (surprising -I would have thought the incidence was much greater).  This condition is when an otherwise healthy baby cries or displays symptoms of distress (like cramping) for no discernible reason, for extended periods (usually at night, when parents are at their most exhausted). 

However, this condition isn’t just for babies.

Two high profile cases of colic reported last week drew my attention to the wider world of colic sufferers. 

First, the male giant panda at Edinburgh Zoo Yang Guang (meaning “Sunshine”) was diagnosed with colic after showing signs of discomfort.  He is expected to be resting for a few weeks away from the public eye and has been given anti-inflammatory medication to ease the problem.

Then the legendary Argentinian football player / manager Diego Armando Maradona, the incumbent coach of the Al Wasl team, was hospitalised with acute renal colic.  His club from the United Arab Emirates announced the story on its official Twitter account.  Happily, like Sunshine, Maradona is back home now and resting.

Horses, are also prone to digestive upset and colic poses a great challenge to horse owners as the actual cause varies. It is estimated that between 10-11 per cent of the general horse population will suffer from colic and about 1 in 10 horses will die as a result. I’ve experienced a horse with colic. It is very upsetting to see. You have to keep the horse walking (sometimes for hours) to help it to pass.

But back to babies.  Infantile colic isn’t as nasty as this. Often the cause is nothing more sinister than trapped wind. It typically appears within the first month of a baby’s life.   Symptoms often disappears before the baby is three to four months old, but can last up to 12 months. Usually it disappears once the baby can sit up – as being vertical helps wind to escape. (My elder daughter, Nadia continued to get it occasionally until she was 3 yrs old). It can be terribly stressful for parents, at a time when they are at their most anxious.

Breast fed babies get less colic than bottle fed babies. The so-called ‘anti-colic’ bottles do help a bit in reducing air swallowing but, in my experience, they don’t solve the problem completely and they tend to overwhelm the baby with milk. I have spent the last 5 years working hard to design a better solution to the problem, and expect to launch my new product later this year.

I would love to talk to you if you are a breastfeeding mum who has experienced difficulties with using bottles to deliver breast milk (or supplements), or if you bottle feed, and your baby is still experiencing wind and colic despite using 'anti-colic' feeders.

To make contact go to Contact Mandy Haberman or go to Twitter.com/mandyhaberman.

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