We are all aware of how important tummy time is for optimal brain development for our children. When our children actively lift their head, they not only strengthen the muscles of their neck and back, they also stimulate a certain part of their brain responsible for motor development. As a chiropractor, my goal is to empower parents to embrace the early developmental years and have fun with this exercise. Below are various ways, with images, you can perform tummy time.
I always advise parents’ to start with short bursts of active tummy time where bub is alert and actively lifting their head. This is a great time to connect with your little ones by laying with them, singing and chatting to them. We don’t want them to get overtired and start getting irritable. A great time of the day can be with each nappy change, after a bath or between feeds whilst burping.
For newborns, there are a number of simple positions to help encourage them to lift their head:
● Whilst reclining back over the couch, lay them on your chest
● Whilst you’re sitting down, lay them across your lap
● Whilst multitasking or walking around, lay them horizontal along your forearm
Tummy time can also be fun by laying bub with their tummy on your shins whilst your legs are in table top. This can be also be a great core workout for parents too!
An even more fun activity is tummy time on an exercise ball. Supporting bub’s pelvis on the ball in the tummy time position and rolling the ball forwards and backwards (allow their body to go past horizontal as per images below). This can be performed for approximately 60 seconds and is great for stimulating their vestibular system, which is the balance system of their brain, also important for brain development.
As your baby gets older, they will become happier performing tummy time on a mat on the floor. It would be great to experiment with different coloured and textured mats to deepen their sensory experiences or place a mirror in front of them.
In terms of developmental stages of tummy time, in the early weeks you would want bub to lift their head for a few seconds and turn left and right. By approximately three months, bub should strongly lift their head for a few minutes with some support on their elbows. Here they will also do some superman style tummy time with arms stretched backwards and legs kicking. When they reach approximately 5 months, bub will be able to stay in tummy time for longer periods happily and may push up in an upward facing dog yoga pose and start rolling too!
I hope this has provided you with some tools to make tummy time more enjoyable for you and your little ones. If your bub does not enjoy tummy time or you simply would like further information, feel free to email me email@example.com or call the clinic on 9376 7474 and I can answer any questions you have.
Written by Dr Carla Vescio
What is this trend or fad around hand expressing colostrum in pregnancy?
My baby isn’t even born yet and I am squeezing my breasts to get milk! What a strange sensation it is!
Have women been doing this for long throughout history?
The answer to this last question is yes and no! History has changed and mothering has changed.
We have all heard the phrase, “It takes a village to raise a child”. In this modern society, we often don’t have a village, living independently of our families, often in different towns and countries. How do we learn how to care for our babies and children without family around? How do we learn about something so instinctual but which needs to be seen often?
Without immediate families, women are learning from books and online. We have lost the ability to learn from our community environment! As a child, I was the second youngest of 13 children. From the age of 7, my sisters started having babies and were always visiting the house for words of wisdom and support from my wonderful Mum.
From this early age, I was able to see my nieces and nephews breastfed and thought it was just how you fed your babies, much like a village. As I grew older and starting training as a midwife, I could not figure out why women didn’t just breastfeed, or why they found it so hard?
I remember talking to mum about it at the time, and wondered how she managed with all of us and her 20 years of breastfeeding. Mum simply said, “I just did it, I had no choice!”
Are we simply missing the network of family and friends around us? I think so! We need women around who will let us know what’s normal, and that it is a learned skill…
I have worked as a midwife for more than 20 years in different countries and different hospitals.
I am also a mother of 3 children, who I breastfed for a combined total of 5 years.
In my early years as a midwife, hand expressing in pregnancy was not the done thing.
I remember being pregnant with my first child Joel, and being obsessed with the changes my breasts were going through!
As early as 20 weeks into the pregnancy, I was able to get a golden drop of colostrum! (Which made me ecstatic). My husband used to think I was strange and say I would run out if I didn’t cut the habit. It never occurred to me that I was going to feed any other way, and I was so excited that my body was already doing exactly what it needed to prepare me for breastfeeding journey.
I didn’t make a concerted effort to express and store EBM until I was in pre-labour. I remember Jan telling me to do it to try establish my labour. When I did give it a go, I got 40mls, which amazed me! I believe it helped my labour intensify, which was the main aim, but also instilled so much confidence into my ability to BF my boy.
Since joining MAMA almost 4 years ago, I have been able to spend more time with women and able to teach them the art of hand expressing in pregnancy. I feel so lucky to be able to instil so much confidence in women at the start of their BF journey! I love the look of shock on women’s faces, when they realize “my boobs work!…I had no idea there was any milk there!..” In our busy life, going back to the basics to learn this invaluable skill can only be positive!
At that first session when we show women the knack of hand expressing, it also gives us another chance to chat about what is normal with regard to all things breastfeeding. It gives us a chance to have a chat about their expectations with regard to their BF journey, which may be influenced by stories relayed to them by family and friends.
It is never about how much colostrum you are able to express, but about learning the skill. At the first session, we may get one golden drop, but often days later I will get a picture sent to me of their first filled syringe. We send you away with that gentle determination to figure out how to work your breast!
It is about being comfortable with your own body, which includes your breasts.
In the months before we start hand expressing, personal experiences from the past may impact how comfortable women are to show their breasts! As midwives, we don’t push the point, but give women the chance to talk about anything which may affect their BF journey. We can never assume women are comfortable with it, and never judge if they find it difficult to do!
At MAMA, we are lucky to be able to develop a relationship with our clients throughout the pregnancy. Pregnancy, birth and parenting is such an amazing emotional journey.
Practical advice from Marita:
Learning how to hand express and store your breast milk is invaluable when it is your first baby, and I recommend you are taught the skill by your midwife or primary care giver from 37-38 weeks. Ask for a supply of syringes so you can store at home in your freezer and take to hospital when you go in to give birth. If you Birth at home it’s easy, your golden stash of milk will be next to all those frozen meals you have prepared! Depending on how much you manage to express, don’t take all the syringes with you, leave some at home and your partner can always bring in if needed. It is important you tell the hospital midwife so it is stored and labelled correctly (if not labelled they will throw it out.. that would be devastating after all your work)… In general I will also make suggestion to second or third time mums but leave it up to you? If you have successfully BF a baby before, the confidence is already there, but you may still want to have a stash just in case!
Yoga retreats are special.
They are intimate and provide the time, space and support to hit ‘pause’ and switch on the ‘all about me’ button – without judgment.
Carefully planned, they assist people to step out of the daily rat race and remind us what it feels like to feel rejuvenated, rested, connected, invigorated and in many ways challenged – mentally, physically and spiritually.
Many retreats possess an element of attentive care and nurturing to feel and know that we are supported. They can be a reminder of the love, or oneness, that exists within us that more often than not we deviate from.
If you have been fortunate to attend a yoga retreat take a moment – recall the feeling that you experienced on closing, the remainder of the day, that evening. How did the next few days unfold?
I remember the feeling of calm in my shoulders, space in my chest, the presence of a moment talking eye to eye with my daughter – noticing that I am not distracted and that my breath was smooth and landing in my belly. There’s a sense of ease in my day and there is clarity in my mind. My type of peace.
And then a week goes by and I’m lingering in daydreams of ‘that time’ I went on a retreat and I am back in the rat race once again.
May I suggest next time, from one person who needs to listen to her suggestions more often, that on the evening that follows your next retreat that you jot down one thing you experienced in class, or a thought that popped up in your mind during, that gave you what you were seeking in that retreat.
Implement that daily or at most weekly.
The first thing that comes to mind.
Please do not overthink it, it’s not meant to be complicated.
Make it happen. Those feelings are worth it and you too are deserving of it.
Note to self. I recall placing my hand on my heart, feeling it beat, breathing in to and out of it and at that moment I mattered to me.
I hope to see you and to share in your experience at our next yoga retreat in July. For more information and tickets on this event – visit here:
Pre & Post Natal Yoga Teacher
Mumma, wife, daughter, friend, coffee drinker, worrier and passion seeker
As a new parent, the experience of a crying baby can be extremely overwhelming. A baby’s cry can be so unpredictable, and it can be difficult to determine the cause. Even more so, it can be difficult to develop effective strategies to stop the crying.
Everyone, from your midwife to your neighbour, will have advice on this topic. Through this blog post, I hope to demystify some information, and to ultimately provide some much needed reassurance to parents regarding their baby-led programs.
For 20 years, when presented with a crying baby, I have referred to my checklist below in order to determine the cause. Is the baby:
- Needing a nappy change?
- Experiencing wind?
Personally, I believed that once all of the above suggestions were accounted for, the baby should have stopped crying as there were no other reasons for it to cry. I was considered a baby whisperer among mothers, and for 20 years, I worked successfully with unsettled babies, and helped provide techniques to soothe them.
This brings me to 11 years ago. My second Grandson, Charlie, was born. It looked like my daughter was in a non-stop baby-crying nightmare. She was so tired and overwhelmed with love for her new son, but driven by her manic desire to sleep. All I wanted was to support her better.
So, it began. I, with my daughter’s approval and armed with plentiful bottles of expressed breast milk, was ready to have my 6-week old grandson for the night. I assumed all that lay ahead was a wonderful night of bonding and sleep for us all. I was wrong.
The night was horrific. Charlie cried and cried – it was so difficult. When my daughter came to pick him up, fresh as a daisy, she said ‘Mum, you look terrible. Get some sleep’. So, I asked myself – how do mothers in this predicament cope?
How do you cope?
That night with Charlie, was so difficult. I felt useless. If Charlie wasn’t either guzzling down his Mum’s magic milk, or in my arms, he was crying.
When my clients ask me, ‘Jan, Why does my baby cry’? I go through the list above. I then tell my story of Charlie, and address the difference between a well crying baby, and a baby who needs to see a doctor.
In the green My Health, Learning and Development book, given to you by your health service, there is a great list at the very front called Recognizing serious illness in your infant. Additionally, the Maternal Child Health Nurse Line, 132229 is available if you have any concerns.
Because of my experience with Charlie, and the obvious need for extra support for parents, I am very interested in the subject of crying babies.
‘But there are so many cries’!
It is said that a baby can have 50 different cries, and somehow there is this misconception that parents must learn each and every one of these. Personally, I agree with the experts who argue that your baby has its own cry, and this cry can vary in intensity, power and volume.
Herbalists, pharmacists, friends, family, and that lady you met at the bus stop will all have different treatments – however there is no ‘one thing fixes all’ solution. This is seen particularly in cases where parents describe the symptoms of what was once called ‘Colic’, however is now mostly referred to as ‘Purple Crying’ (see purplecrying.info for more information).
U – Unexpected
R – Resists soothing
P – Pain like face
L – Long lasting
E – Evening
This period of ‘Purple Crying’ has a beginning and end. Purple crying reflects a normal developmental pathway, NOT an illness. It begins at about 2 weeks and continues till 3 to 4 months.
‘What is wrong with them’?
In order to accept that a baby is crying, and ultimately develop strategies to sooth the baby, we must first realise that (in most circumstances) crying is a normal developmental trait. After all, crying is the only way a baby is able to communicate it’s needs at this stage.
With this said, it is also important to remember that when a baby cries, it gives parents or carers an opportunity to bond and learn what our baby’s needs are.
Additionally, as a Midwife, I need to remind others that babies are often exhausted from birth or are hurting because of it. This is especially common when instruments are used on their heads at birth. It’s a tough job being born! They were nice and comfy and warm, and have now been pushed into a bright world out of nowhere – they’re exhausted!
Babies who are born premature or those who need nursery care may need extra patience and love as they gain confidence in life’s journey.
There is lengthy research that shows that babies are unaware of the idea of ‘day’ and ‘night’, and therefore sleeping in the dark vs. sleeping in the light shouldn’t make too much of a difference.
Do babies cry more at night?
Yes. There are many theories to explain this. One of the most interesting is the idea that by feeding at night, the baby intends to delay the mother’s return to fertility by keeping mum exhausted and delaying ovulation. This begs the question, ‘Does the baby have a hidden plan to control it’s parents and prevent potential for siblings in the near future’? Researchers debate over this as seen in the references below [Michaeleen Doccleff}. Harvard University’s David Haig says those lungs were made for screaming. in earlier times, babies that cried and woke their mothers at night had a better chance of surviving and having their own children. Its clear young babies can’t get enough milk if they sleep all night.
Parents do need to be reassured by experts that crying in a well child is normal. Yes, there is a reason and yes, there is a solution. It makes sense to hold your baby when it cries and this will provide insight to the reason and help you grow as this baby’s parent .
Holding your baby can heal all wounds.
Ignoring your baby can make it worse.
Charlie is now 11, and he has always had trouble sleeping. He lays awake wondering about Lego, dinosaurs and basketball.
By Jan Ireland, Mother of 4, Nanna to 8 (soon to be 9). Director of MAMA.
Breastfeeding, I. (2018). Breastfeeding, Infant Sleep And How Babies Are Defying An Evolutionary Mandate. [online] Science 2.0. Available at: http://www.science20.com/news_articles/breastfeeding_infant_sleep_and_how_babies_are_defying_an_evolutionary_mandate-133880 [Accessed 21 May 2018].