Tag Archives: pregnancy

Stockpiling Gripe Water may not curb the colic

SO, shops have run out of Woodward’s Gripe Water. Frazzled parents, driven to despair by colicky babies, are at their wit’s end and bottles usually on sale in Boots for less than £2.50 are being sold on Ebay for a tenner.

Yet the burpy liquid has stopped being manufactured because it’s being investigated by the Government’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

You can usually buy the booze-less version in any pharmacy where it is given in a tiny amount to babies over one month old who are suffering from colic, or trapped wind. Other brands are available, or you can even make your own.

If you put your ear to the tummy of a colicky baby – between the ear-drum-piercing, high-pitched screams – you can hear bubbles.

The blurb claims that the mixture of bicarb of soda and dill oil disperses the bubbles, relieving the discomfort and usually producing a big burp.

However, there seems to be manufacturing and licensing issues with the remedy, which was made by SSL International before being bought out by Reckitt Benckiser, who have halted its manufacture – for now.

Lots of parents-of-a-certain-age will recall Woodward’s Gripe Water from years ago, when it still had alcohol in it. It probably didn’t have any E Number preservatives in it then because, let’s face it, alcohol doesn’t go off.

More recently the alcohol was taken out, so today’s recipe contains a basic mix of Sodium bicarb (hence the burp), dill seed oil and E215, E217 and E219.

We tried Woodward’s when our eldest, now 14, was wreaking havoc on our lives as a new baby. We were still baffled by the tiny infant who screamed his head off after just about every feed. He’d pull his knees up to his chest and clench his tiny fists, and we just didn’t know how to help him. We’d have tried anything.

Sleep-deprivation due to his crying had turned us into neurotic zombies. Bloke would walk him around for hours, baby Jed lying over hid shoulder, doing the New Parent shuffle, swaying side-to-side to the same CD, the only one that seemed to calm baby down (to this day neither of us can listen to Sacred Spirit Vol.1: Chants & Dances of the Native Americans . . .)

We tried Woodward’s Gripe Water, and once we’d worked out how to get a 5ml spoon of a very runny, sticky liquid into a squirming baby’s mouth without getting it all over ourselves, up the baby’s nose, or all over the carpet, it would usually elicit a burp within a minute or so. (Ask your pharmacy for a medicine syringe, it’s far easier).

The gripe water lulled us, temporarily; into thinking we’d solved it. But the wailing would inevitably start again.

So we tried Infacol, another colic remedy, which you are meant to give BEFORE a feed. To be honest, we don’t think that worked either, though many of our friends will testify both worked on their own colicky babies.

With the benefit of hindsight, and knowing now we didn’t have any problems with our subsequent three, I wonder whether Jed actually had colic at all.

I just don’t think we knew how to ‘wind’ a baby properly. (And that’s not to say colic doesn’t exist, before a barrage of angry emails drops into my inbox).

When you have a new tiny baby, you are terrified to handle him or her with anything except metaphorical kid gloves. But to get bubbles out of a baby’s tummy, or break them up small enough not to cause discomfort, you have to rub, and rub, and pat, and rub, for what seems like hours – or until the next feed. One burp isn’t usually enough.

In practice, you have to be reasonably vigorous. My Mum is an absolute master at winding. She’d lie the baby on her lap, or across her shoulder, and do a rhythmic routine of patting, stroking up the back and patting again. Without fail, she’d get them belching for England, without so much as a whimper.

Making sure their stomach is pressed against you while winding, or propping them into a sitting position, holding their chin in one hand and patting the back with the other can work.

And *whispers* lying them on their tummy in their cot (only if they can hold their head up) also worked for all four of mine to stop the bubbles waking them up after a feed.

If you have a colicky baby, and the Woodward’s has run out, then you have the full sympathy of every parent on the planet.

I’ll let you in on another of my Mum’s bizarre, possibly placebo and thoroughly un-PC remedies for crying babies. Warm, previously boiled water, allowed to cool in a small cup with half a spoon of sugar stirred in. Give one spoonful to baby from a METAL spoon. It works especially well on hiccups.

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We shouldn’t give first-time Mums elective Caesareans – we should give them more midwives and tell them to ‘man-up’

THERE’S new guidance about to be issued to the NHS which will allow all pregnant women to request a caesarean – even if they don’t ‘need’ one.

It appears that a growing number of first-time mothers think that having an elective ‘pre-booked’ caesarean – rather than having to have one on medical grounds – will help avoid the pain of natural childbirth and keep their figure.

I’ve been lucky enough not to need a caesarean having any of my babies (if I knew then what I know now, they’d ALL have been home-births).

Therefore maybe I’m not best placed to try to deter any new mums-to-be from thinking elective c-section is easier and safer. (But you know me, I’ll have a go).

Everyone I’ve known who has had to have a caesarean has said how frightening it was. After all, it’s a major operation.

You have to sign a consent form, and there are several people in the operating theatre, including surgeons, an anaesthetist, theatre staff, midwives and a paediatrician.

You’ll probably need a spinal injection; an epidural, and have your pubic area shaved for the incision. After experiencing the strange sensation of having someone rummaging around in your insides, you get to meet your baby.

More rummaging occurs as the placenta is removed and then your stomach has to be sewn up again, which, because it involves layers of muscle, fat and skin, can take around 40 minutes. The final layer is either stapled or stitched.

Either way, it’s a major, painful wound that will take several weeks to heal. For this reason most mums who have had to have a caesarean are kept in hospital longer than those who don’t. You will find it difficult to bend and lift, and will have to take painkillers for the first few weeks at least. You’ll still get the agonising ‘afterpains’ that come after all births as the uterus contracts and have to wear pads for bleeding. Did I mention that internal surgery also gives really bad wind?

You aren’t allowed to drive for six weeks after the operation, and if you do, your car insurance is likely to be invalid.

The World Health Organisation estimates that only ten per cent of women should be having c-sections yet in some areas of the UK it’s up to 30 per cent, notably in the ‘wealthier’ South East.

There’s a distinct difference between ‘too-posh-to-push’ and mothers who have experienced a very traumatic labour and have had to have an emergency c-section. These mums have some insight into whether a caesarean would be a better option, in consultation with their midwife, for any further births.

So why are so many first-timers so taken with the idea of caesareans? Is it really the image touted by the celebrity media?

Are we really now a generation refusing to even contemplate any pain, any inconvenience to our schedules, any changes to our body-shape by life experience?

How come women are so willing to undergo the surgeon’s knife and the associated pain and scarring of plastic surgery for their looks, yet not even contemplate at least trying give birth the way nature intended?

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Is it a big deal if dad misses the birth?

SO, SARKOZY missed the birth of his only daughter, his fourth child. That’s a good start eh?

I’m sure we’ll be assured that the French President’s decision to be away, talking about the Euro crisis with the Germans, while third wife Carla was giving birth to their daughter, was all pre-arranged.

After all, while it is estimated that over 89 per cent of fathers attend the birth of their children, clearly many don’t.

This may be due to a number of factors, like them being panicking imbeciles who make the birth even more stressful for the mother, or fainty wusses who don’t like the sight of blood and can’t ‘Man-up’ enough for the sake of their partner and child.

Or maybe they are just prats like Gordon Ramsay, who famously ‘quipped’ that he missed the births of all four of his children because he feared his sex life “would be damaged by images like something out of a sci-fi movie.”

Ah, perhaps I’m being too harsh. I’m sure there are couples out there who decided it would be mutually beneficial for the bloke to scarper at the point of no return.

After all, it’s a relatively modern phenomenon that the husband is expected to be involved at all. A generation ago it was perfectly acceptable for the new father to avoid any of the gory stuff, then get drunk with his mates, then discharge himself of any involvement in his children’s upbringing other than to occasionally pat them on the head while smoking a pipe and reading the paper.

Bloke was there for the births of all four of our babies. He’d tell you that it was stressful, because of the feeling of being utterly powerless to do anything to help. And because of the genuine worry that things might go wrong for both me and the baby. And because he had to listen to me moo like a cow in the moments I wasn’t swearing at him.

He says he’d never have wanted to miss any of them though, because ultimately it was his children arriving in the world to meet their parents. He formed an instant bond with each of them he will never forget nor want to have missed.

This is not to say that those who haven’t been able to be at the business end of birth don’t have a loving and wonderful relationship with their children. Sportsmen have to be in competitions halfway around the world and teleportation still hasn’t been perfected yet (I wait and hope).

However, I can’t quite believe that Carla would have been totally cool with Emperor Sarko slopping off to meet Angela Merkel as she went into labour (or perhaps it was an elective Caesarian, still a major operation).

I like to think the conversation would have gone something like this: *imagine it with a French accent*

Carla: “Oh Nicky, the contractions are getting very painful, I think it might be soon. . .

Sarko: “Oui my sweet, you just keep breathing and let the nice nursey ladies do their thing. . . I just need to, er, pop out for a mo. . .

Carla: “What? Where are you going?

Sarko: “Hush now ma cherie, save your strength, I just remembered we need a pint of milk, I won’t be long, and er, I just need to pop over to Angela’s to sort out the Euro thingy. . .

*Exit Sarkozy, who returns for just half an hour the following day to meet his new daughter*

Sarko: “Hello love, hello petit baby. Sorry to have missed all the fun . . .

Carla: “You’d better have sorted out that Euro crisis mate, ‘cos I don’t see any milk in your hand. . .”

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To wee or not to wee, that is the question (you may not have any choice about)

CLICK off the page now if you don’t want to hear about my internal organs. *Checks to see if they’ve gone*

Right. Some serious advice for mothers, mothers-to-be and even those thinking about sprogging.

Having kids messes up your body.

Maybe not straight away, maybe not even for a few years. But eventually, after all that  carting about of small human beings inside and out, your body conks out.

It might be a touch of repeated sciatica, where a trapped nerve renders you in immovable agony. It may be just saggy skin that just hasn’t the elasticity of youth to ping back into place regardless of how much you exercise.

Or it may be that your internal organs start giving into gravity and heading south.

Yes, I am talking about the huge but hardly discussed problem of stress incontinence.

I am hardly proud, and not at all amused, about having to go to the doctors because I can’t jump up and down, skip or play Kinect sports without worrying I might have a little involuntary wee.

I can’t be at the allotment for more than an hour without my brain/bladder teaming up to make me believe I need to pee so urgently I may need to discreetly use my daughter’s car potty.

It’s the kids nagging me to go to the loo before we leave the house: “Mum, have you been? We won’t be stopping again for a while. . .”

I’d ignored the pelvic floor exercises warning after giving birth 13 years ago, and when I got a cold, I got more than just a runny nose.

Three more pregnancies and I won the pelvic floor battle. I could clench for England.

But three years on it seems the ground floor is heading for the basement.

Intensive pelvic floor exercises have been prescribed – two sets, six times a day – and surgery has been threatened. Six times a day? It’s hard to remember to do them.

If you are one of the millions of mothers who has to plan their journeys around toilet stops for themselves, rather than their kids, stop blaming it on your age. Get thee to a doctor while they can still do something to help.

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Who’d have thought, I feel sorry for Posh

BIZARRE as it sounds, I feel some sympathy for Victoria Beckham. It’s bad enough having to endure pregnancy, but having to endure it in the full glare of a worldwide media spotlight is another thing entirely.

True, she’s got millions in the bank from parading the family brand about for many years, but she hasn’t just had her mates and family asking “aww, but wouldn’t it be nice to have a girl?” she’s had the entire planet going on about it.

I hope all turns out well when she has what everyone assumes is a daughter in July.

But I can’t help but secretly hope her little girl turns out to be an insect-collecting tomboy who refuses to wear dresses.

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