Facing parental challenges?

Recent research by SMA Nutrition has uncovered a genuine need for expert support and guidance for parents, particularly first-timers. SMA Nutrition has responded by creating the SMA Every Step Panel of Experts – an advisory panel designed to provide mentorship across a broad range of issues which affect parents on a daily basis. These experts know and understand the everyday challenges of parenthood and are here to help you at every step of the way.

Niamh asks:

Our baby is 10 weeks old now and still wakes every few hours through the night. At what stage do you think will he settle into a routine?

John Sharry, family and child psychotherapist, answers:

New babies need to be fed every few hours and it’s not until about 12 weeks that they can sleep for longer stretches (five to six hours ) without feeding.

For lucky parents, this occurs at night-time ensuring a better night’s sleep for everyone, though a significant number of babies continue to wake periodically in the night.

The key to helping your child sleep is to tune into and notice what helps them sleep and to create a relaxing routine and good sleep associations at night. You might notice that your baby has his own ‘natural routine’ around feeding and sleeping that you could build upon. A good book on the subject is The Baby Whisperer by Tracy Hogg.

Fiona asks:

I’m returning to work soon, and find it difficult to express breast milk. How can I combine breast and bottle feeding?

Anne Sidnell, SMA nutritionist, answers:

It is possible to combine breast-feeding and bottle-feeding, but by increasing the number of bottle feeds that you are giving your baby, your breast milk supply will reduce by that amount when you return to work.

Some mums like to continue to breast-feed in the morning and evening and let their baby’s carer feed a bottle of formula in between these times. Others express breast milk at work, refrigerate or freeze it and then give this to the carer to feed from a bottle during the day.

By expressing your breast milk using a hand or electric pump, you will maintain a good supply for your baby. You can store your expressed breast milk in the fridge for up to 24 hours and in the freezer for up to three months.

Susan asks:

I’m coming up to full-term of my pregnancy, and I’m just wondering what signs I need to look out for that I’m going into labour?

Susan Mac Nicholas, midwife and antenatal educator, answers:

The early signs, up to 48 hours prior to labour, might start with a sudden surge of energy – you might find yourself cleaning the house in a frenzy! Nausea, vomiting and diarrhoea can also be early signs. The bowel must completely flatten in labour and as the body prepares for birth it must empty. You may also see a thick mucus blood-stained discharge (referred to as ‘show’ ) that up to now has been in the cervical canal preventing ascending infection.

As labour begins, the pain gets stronger, longer and more frequent with definite patterns developing. The pain will usually be in the stomach but can also be in the back or groin. If your water breaks, go straight to hospital. If the water is green or bloody, call an ambulance. Don’t take a bath but showers are okay.

Stephanie asks:

We put initial expenses for the baby – a cot, pram, baby clothes etc – on our credit card and now can’t seem to find cash to pay it off. Financially, things seem to always get on top of us and this has led to the odd row with my partner. Any solutions to put us back on the road?

John Lowe, financial advisor, answers:

It’s traumatic enough becoming parents for the first-time, so financial issues should certainly be minimised where possible. If your credit is currently good, I would suggest you transfer your card balance to another credit card company offering 0 per cent for six months on transferring balances to them.

This gives you breathing space for six months to think about how you are going to reduce this debt. Credit card interest rates are among the highest payable and if you only pay the minimum balance each month, it could take you up to 11 years to clear the balance!

I recommend the sniper approach to debt – pay off the most expensive short term debt first. This will ease cash flow problems. The next chore is to do a complete financial make-over – with all your income and expenditure analysed. It’s simple: If your expenditure exceeds your income, you have two choices – earn more or cut costs. www.rollercoaster.ie/smaeverystep

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