References: Stress In Babies
Albers EM, Riksen-Walraven JM, Sweep FC, and de Weerth C. 2008. Maternal behavior predicts infant cortisol recovery from a mild everyday stressor. J Child Psychol Psychiatry 49:97-103.
Asok A, Bernard K, Roth TL, Rosen JB, and Dozier M. 2013. Parental responsiveness moderates the association between early-life stress and reduced telomere length. Dev Psychopathol. 25:577-85.
Beatrice Beebe, Joseph Jaffe, Sara Markese, Karen Buck, Henian Chen, et al. 2010. The Origins of 12-Month Attachment: A Microanalysis of 4-Month Mother-Infant Interaction. Attach Hum Dev. 12: 3141.
Beijers R, Riksen-Walraven JM, and de Weerth C. 2013. Cortisol regulation in 12-month-old human infants: associations with the infants early history of breastfeeding and co-sleeping. Stress 16:267-77.
Blair C, Granger D, Willoughby M, Kivlighan K. 2006. Maternal sensitivity is related to hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis stress reactivity and regulation in response to emotion challenge in 6-month-old infants. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 1094:263-7.
Esposito G, Yoshida S, Ohnishi R, Tsuneoka Y, Rostagno Mdel C, Yokota S, Okabe S, Kamiya K, Hoshino M, Shimizu M, Venuti P, Kikusui T, Kato T, Kuroda KO. 2013. Infant calming responses during maternal carrying in humans and mice. Current Biology 23:739-45.
Feldman R, Singer M, and Zagoory O. 2010. Touch attenuates infants physiological reactivity to stress. Dev Sci. 13:271-8.
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Looking After Yourself While Your Baby Is In The Nicu
14. Go easy on yourself Its OK to say that you cant make it to a friends birthday party this year if you dont feel up to it. And dont feel bad if you sleep in one morning rather than getting to the hospital early. If you look after yourself, youll be better able to better look after your baby.
15. Accept help from family and friends Your priorities are likely to be visiting your premature baby and caring for your partner, yourself and other children. Practical help from friends and family can free you up for these priorities. If someone offers to mow the lawn, give you a lift to the hospital, do the shopping or walk the dog, say, Yes, please!
16. Talk to someone Having a baby in NICU can be difficult and its normal to feel strong emotions like guilt, anger, shame and hopelessness. Its good to acknowledge your emotions and talk to someone you trust about how youre feeling. You can talk to your partner, a friend or family member, hospital staff or other NICU parents.
17. Eat well Nutritious food will boost your energy levels. If youre expressing breastmilk, you need three healthy meals and two or three healthy snacks a day. Everyone is different, so use your hunger, thirst and fullness to guide what you eat and drink.
18. Accept that therell be ups and downs Knowing and accepting that there will be good days and bad days will help you to not feel so shocked and worried when bad days happen.
Coping With An Unsettled Baby
Coping with an unsettled baby can be highly demanding and stressful for any parent. Unsettled babies can make the adjustment to parenthood very challenging especially when you are still in the process of forming a bond with your baby. Signs of an unsettled baby can include constant crying which is difficult to soothe, a baby that wakes often during the night, wakes after very short sleeps, and/or is difficult to settle to sleep.
Excessive crying occurs in up to thirty percent of infants in the first three months of life.
There are various reasons as to why your baby may not be as settled as you expected, or even very different from your other children. Some babies are just easier to settle than others it is no reflection on you.
Babies all come with their own unique temperaments and like people generally, some will be easy going and placid, whilst others will be highly sensitive or determined in their own way. You may also have had a preterm baby, or a baby with a medical condition which can bring additional challenges for them and for you. Often common medical conditions can cause your baby to be in pain and lead them to cry and be unsettled. It is a good idea to have you baby checked by a health professional to rule this out as a possible reason for their distress and crying, and if it is the case, seek treatment for them to alleviate their pain and symptoms.
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Tools And Tips Are Available
The National Center on Shaken Baby Syndrome has developed an evidence-based program called the Period of PURPLE Crying to help parents and others who care for newborns understand this normal behavior, how to cope with it, and how to keep a baby safe. The materials are based on more than 25 years of research led by Ronald Barr, MA, MDCM, FRCPC, a pediatrician at British Columbia Childrens Hospital.
The materials for new parents include an easy to read, 11-page booklet and a 10-minute PURPLE video , as well as a 17-minute video about the Period of PURPLE Crying, titled Crying, Soothing and Coping: Doing What Comes Naturally, that shows real families talking about what they experienced and how they coped.
Seattle Childrens convened the Abusive Head Trauma Prevention Task Force of Washington in 2010 to spearhead a three-dose, community-wide effort to get the word about the Period of PURPLE Crying out across Washington state.
Practice Good Sleep Hygiene
Night sleep develops first, so typically the first portion of the night is the longest stretch of sleep, says certified pediatric sleep consultant Tracie Kesatie, MA, of Rest Well Baby.
Kesatie recommends implementing a relaxing routine, such as taking a warm bath or reading a few pages of a book before bed, plus turning off electronics at least 1 to 2 hours before bedtime.
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Making The Nicu Space Your Own
1. Make the space around your baby more personal You can bring things from home, use peoples gifts, or put up photos of yourselves and your babys siblings to make the space around your baby different from that of other babies. But keep in mind that too much clutter can make caring for your baby difficult.
2. Create a private spaceSitting in the NICU, youre usually facing outwards. That means everyone who goes by can see you. If you want some private time but also want to stay beside your baby, turn your chair around so that you face inwards. Then you can close your eyes and relax, read, sing to your baby or just have some quiet time.
3. Celebrate special occasionsHospital staff and volunteers often put a lot of effort into special occasions. For example, Santa visits at Christmas and staff put up decorations. You could celebrate a special day like a family birthday, religious celebration or your babys expected birth date by putting up decorations yourselves. Celebrating a special day can take your mind off your worries about your baby.
Learn How To Tell When Your Baby Is Sleepy
Once theyve been awake for a bit, your baby will be ready for another nap. Learn how to tell when theyre sleepy. Your little one might yawn, rub their eyes, look away, stare blankly, or start fussing. Figure out how to read these cues so you can put your baby down when theyre ready and avoid letting them become overly tired.
As soon as you notice your newborn getting tired, be sure to prioritize their sleep. This is the best way to prevent crankiness or fitful sleeping and help them maintain some sort of schedule.
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Teach Your Toddler To Share On Their Terms
Once your baby is on the move, guess what they are going to want to play with? Your toddlers toys!
There are a few different things you can try to help your toddler ease into sharing with the baby.
Ask your toddler what toy the baby should play with.
This gives them a little control of the situation and it also makes them feel important.
Chances are your baby will be happy with whatever toy their older sibling hands over.
You can also model this skill by having the baby share with your toddler.
Identify What Has Died
Your baby is alive and you truly are thankful. Still, there are things that have died: dreams, expectations, hopes, wishes. Whether or not you have verbalized them, as a parent expecting a new child, you have them. And now those dreams are not to be. They are intangible deaths and are often hard to identify. Identify and verbalize them just the same.
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How To Cope With A Newborn Baby
By | Submitted On June 01, 2010
The new born baby will depend on you for their survival. They need you to feed them and will let you know, in no uncertain terms, when they are hungry. They may wake you during the night, leaving you feeling tired and burnt out. You can assert some control over their feeding times though, making them more suitable to you. Giving them a good feed at 11pm should keep them quite until about 4, so you can fit a decent stretch of sleep during that time.
You never know when you are going to have to attend to your babies needs, so try and sleep when your baby sleeps and take any opportunities to rest that may arise.
Keep your domestic standards realistic. You may not be able to achieve the domestic perfection you once knew, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you cannot find the time or energy to get everything done as quickly as before.
Rally your friends, neighbours and family to help you cope with your new demands. They may be able to share the workload, getting some shopping or cooking done for you, allowing you more time to rest or catch up.
Try not to spend all your time just meeting the needs of your new born. This may cause some resentment or jealousy to be harboured by the other loved ones in your life, such as your spouse or other members of your family.
Lastly, take some time out for yourself. Give yourself some treats, such as a trip to the hairdressers or the spa.
Disruption While You Are Trying To Settle The Baby At Nap Time
Suggest to your toddler that when the baby goes to sleep this is their special mummy time. Do some one-on-one activities with them such as a cuddle on the couch and a story, or playing blocks something that you know they enjoy doing. If they understand that the time when the baby sleeps is just for them, they will be much more inclined to cooperate when you are trying to settle their sibling to sleep.
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Create A Bedtime Routine
While it may seem that your newborn has no idea what time of day it is, its not too early to start forming a routine. A consistent bedtime routine will help your baby understand that its time to wind down. And this will serve you for months to come! Your routine might include dressing them in their pajamas, reading a book, singing a song, rocking them, and kissing them goodnight. Find out what works best for your family and stick to it.
Sometime during the night, your little one will probably need to wake up and feed. During these feedings, you can help your baby understand the differences between daytime and nighttime by cues.Keep nighttime feedings dark, quiet, and boring. Leave the bedroom lights off, and avoid stimulating them too much by talking or singing to them. By feeding them and promptly placing them back in their crib, you give your newborn a better chance of falling right back to sleep .
Visiting Your Baby In The Nicu
4. Ask questions and keep informedThe NICU can be overwhelming. If theres anything youre unsure of, its OK to ask hospital staff to explain in words you understand. You can take notes to help you remember important details.
Building relationships with medical staff can make it easier for you to ask questions and stay up to date. You could choose to speak regularly with two or three medical staff about how your baby is going. Ward rounds can be a good time to do this.
5. Get involved with your babys routinesIf you can, plan to be in the NICU when the staff do your babys cares. You can first learn and then gradually take over your babys care. For example, you can help wash your babys face, change nappies or reposition your baby.
6. Have friends and family visit to support youSome, but not all, NICUs allow friends and extended family to visit. If yours does, you can introduce your baby to her new family and social world. Visitors can have a meal with you, or sit by your baby while you get a meal or go for a walk. Most of all, they support you while youre supporting your child.
Its a good idea to have only one or two visitors at a time, because too many people can be overwhelming for you and your baby.
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Impacts Of An Unsettled Baby On Your Mental Health
Being aware of the impact of the babys crying and distress on you, also needs to be recognised.
Its the difference between hearing them cry and saying theres the baby again and Oh God I cannot face this, I cannot bear this.
An unsettled baby can lead parents to experience high levels of fatigue, which can then impact upon your ability to function well. Often however, these signs of fatigue are minimised and parents do not receive the support that they need.
The signs of fatigue and sleep deprivation can sometimes be viewed as signs of postnatal depression or anxiety. Being aware of these conditions, the symptoms and how they differ from exhaustion is important to help you identify the type of help that is likely to be right for you.
Signs And Symptoms Of Postpartum Psychosis
Postpartum psychosis is a rare, but extremely serious disorder that can develop after childbirth, characterized by loss of contact with reality. Because of the high risk for suicide or infanticide, hospitalization is usually required to keep the mother and the baby safe.
Postpartum psychosis develops suddenly, usually within the first two weeks after delivery, and sometimes within 48 hours. Symptoms include:
- Extreme agitation and anxiety
- Inability or refusal to eat or sleep
- Thoughts of harming or killing your baby
Postpartum psychosis should be considered a medical emergency requiring immediate medical attention.
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