Canada is adopting one of Finland’s greatest ideas: baby boxes

Canada is adopting one of Finland's greatest ideas: baby boxes

Finland started giving out to parents of newborns for free?

They’re boxes with basically everything you need to keep an infant alive, healthy, and happy:clothes, a towel, a quilt, diapers, bibs, a book, a toy. The kit even comes with a mattress, so the box itself can be used as the baby’s first crib.

Canada is adopting one of Finland's greatest ideas: baby boxes

For over 75 years, Finland’s baby boxes have helped the country achieve one of the lowest infant mortality rates in the world. In 2016, the tradition is coming to CanadaSince its introduction in the late 1930s, the country has seen the infant mortality rate plummet, something experts partly attribute to the box. (National health care and a centralized hospital system played a role, too.) It’s one of those genius but simple ideas that can really improve and even save lives.

The tradition began in 1938 as a way to give all Finnish babies an equal start in life. The baby boxes were given by the government to low-income families and new mothers had to visit their doctor before the fourth month of pregnancy in order to receive one.

The maternity box is essentially a care package given to every new mother in Finland. The cardboard box contains all the supplies a new parent would need, including clothes, diapers and toys. The box itself even comes complete with a built-in mattress, so that it can be used as the baby’s first bed.

Since the program began, Finland’s infant mortality rate has significantly decreased from 10 per cent of babies dying before the age of one to just 0.3 per cent. As a result, Finland has inspired more than 30 countries to adopt a similar program, including Canada.

Now Canada is picking up on the trend too

The University of Calgary is launching a study to see if new parents in Alberta could also benefit from these «baby starter kits.»

The study is part of the University of Calgary’s Welcome to Parenthood program, which has previously offered parent coaching and parenthood packages, including a guidebook and a dry-erase board for parents to list the help they need.

Now Canada is picking up on the trend too

Here’s how the study works: New moms will pick up the baby boxes from Parent Link Centers a couple months before their due date. While they’re there, they’ll also fill out a questionnaire and get connected with another parent mentor in their community. Researchers will follow up with the new parents after they give birth to see how they’re adjusting to life with a baby.

Now, with the support of grants, a new program called “Welcome to Parenthood” will be distributing 1,500 baby boxes to Canadian parents starting January 2016.

Karen Benzies, the lead researcher for the study, told the Calgary Herald that they hope the boxes and mentorship will help parents gain their footing during a time of transition. «You’re going to be successful, but every parent needs a little help,» she said.

The initiative came about after Jennifer Clary, co-founder of The Baby Box Co., the first company to make baby boxes outside of Europe, teamed up with the Alberta Government and University of Calgary. While the company commercially sells different versions of the baby box, they also work with governments and non-profit organizations to customize packages for different communities.

The period shortly after birth can feel lonely for new parents

“We’re using the basic baby box, with the mattress, and we’ve collaborated with the province on some basic additions,” says Jennifer Weber, Government of Alberta’s senior manager of Early Childhood Development Services.

The period shortly after birth can feel lonely for new parents

New babies require a lot of attention, and it can be overwhelming and isolating to suddenly be responsible for another human life. Particularly for moms struggling with postpartum depression, a support system (like the baby box) could be super valuable during this time.

Besides the mattress, Canada’s baby boxes will include onesies, breast pads and plush toys. Additionally, in their package, new parents will also receive an online video program of experts answering baby questions.

Canada’s baby box isn’t just going to be a huge help to parents, either

Researchers think that having better access to parenting resources will help the kids themselves in early childhood, too.

According to data from World Bank, Canada’s infant mortality rate is quite low at 4 deaths per thousand births. Despite this, Weber says the maternity boxes are still needed in the country.

Plus, the boxes could be coming to the U.S. soon, too

They’re such a good idea that a U.S.-based baby box mission is headed to Texas in the form of a pilot study,according to WFAA. And even though the U.S. doesn’t offer free baby boxes to most new parents just yet, you can also purchase your very own right here.

“We know Canada’s doing very well, but Canadians still have parenting issues that are unique to us,” she said. “We have vulnerable families and many communities with their own particular needs. We have teen moms, single parents, families in temporary accommodation.”

According to Weber, Canada’s maternity box is currently still in the testing stage and will only be available in Alberta in 2016. The hope is to have widespread distribution as soon as possible, but that is likely a long way off.

References: upworthy huffingtonpost

 

Nutrition

Nutrition

Nutrition

The Diet for Two

Now that you’re pregnant, you can’t but help become intensely aware of the connection between your own nutrition and the health of your unborn baby. Most women feel motivated to modify their eating habits. As days go by, you find that you start craving for carbohydrates and you may not know why. Some women will start worrying about the growing weight due to this.

Studies show that severe malnutrition early in pregnancy can lead to birth defects and fetal deaths. Both your weight before pregnancy and your weight gain during pregnancy will greatly affect your baby’s weight at birth and its subsequent health. If you’re underweight, you’ll have fewer stores of essential nutrients to supply the baby, and your poor eating habits are likely to continue during pregnancy, making matters worse. Underweight mothers tend to have less healthy babies. If you’re overweight, the best time to lose weight is also before you become pregnant, especially since it may be harmful to your fetus for you to lose weight during pregnancy. Since the fetus doesn’t need to diet, significant weight loss in the mother can limit the fetus’s access to important nutrients and cause harmful metabolic stress. When you lose weight, your body must break down fat. This causes certain chemicals, called ketone bodies, to enter the bloodstream, which may cause metabolic and nervous system damage to the developing fetus. In this diet plan we advice that you discuss this with your obstetrician to get the best combination possible.

Fruit and vegetables

Eat at least five servings a day. This can include a glass of pure fruit juice. This food group includes fresh, frozen and canned fruit and vegetables, salads, dried fruit, fruit juices. Most fruits are a good source of vitamins which fall into two categories: fat soluble and water soluble. The fat-soluble vitamins include A, D, E, and K. These are stored in the body and need not be consumed every day. In high doses, vitamins A, D, and E may be toxic or teratogenic (teratogens are physical, chemical, or infectious factors that cause damage to the fetus). The water-soluble vitamins include the B vitamins and vitamin C. Since these are not stored in the body, you need to renew your supply of them each day. They are also quite fragile and can be destroyed by food processing.

Meats, alternatives and fish

We recommend that you eat 1-2 servings every day. It is better to choose lean meat, remove the skin from poultry and cook using the minimum of fat. Try to eat oily fish at least once a week. This food group includes meat (except liver), fish, poultry, eggs, beans, and nuts (except peanuts).

High fat and sugar foods

Limit the amount of carbohydrates you eat every day. This food group includes all spreading fats, oils, salad dressings, cream, chocolate, crisps, biscuits, pastries, ice-cream, cake, puddings, and fizzy drinks. It is important to note that excessive blood glucose levels in diabetic patients during early pregnancy can increase the risk of birth defects. In nondiabetic, the excessive sugar intake does not cause birth defects but may cause excessive poundage and tooth decay if you do not have good oral hygiene. On the other hand if you don’t include enough carbohydrates in your diet, you are in essence starving both you and your baby, and this can interfere with normal fetal growth. Too much consumption of sweet foods may replace other; more nutrient-dense foods in the diet, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products. Recommendations for health-promoting diets indicate that 50 to 60 percent of our total calories should come from carbohydrates, particularly food sources of the complex carbohydrates.

Dietary Fiber

Dietary fiber differs from starches in that it is not digested by enzymes produced by humans. Consequently, it is not considered to be a source of energy. Dietary fiber is found only in plants and comes in two basic types. One type is the fibrous components of plant cells, particularly plant cell walls. The other type is nonfibrous components of plant cells that are primarily found inside of cells. Dietary fiber, even though it is not absorbed into the body proper, has a number of effects. The specific effect varies according to what type of dietary fiber is consumed. Fibrous forms of dietary fiber, such as that found in bran and fruit and vegetable skins, helps prevent constipation, a common condition during pregnancy. Gel-forming nonfibrous fiber, such as that contained in the pulp of fruit, oatmeal, and dried beans, slows glucose absorption and decreases the amount of cholesterol that is absorbed from foods. This type of fiber also enhances elimination by forming bulk in the intestine that moves waste products along.

Your Exercise program

Your Exercise program

Your Exercise program

Your Exercise program

Now that you are pregnant, your exercise options become limited during but a number of excellent choices exist. Activities involving running or jogging, walking, aerobic dance, bicycling, swimming, and tennis can all be pursued to some degree. Some activities should be taken up before you conceive if you wish to continue them while you’re pregnant.

Running or Jogging

You should start this before conception; otherwise your muscles may not be able to support your loosening joints. If you have been doing this foe some time before becoming pregnant, you may continue to pursue these activities without harm.

Brisk Walking

In this activity, you can start brisk walking anytime, including during pregnancy. Begin slowly bearing in mind that the whole idea is to increase your activity level gradually. Start with 5 to 10 minutes at a time and slowly increase to 20 or 30 minutes three or four times per week. Avoid this in high temperatures or humidity but you may exercise outdoors.

Cycling

Cycling is important in that it gives you good cardiovascular workout. It’s not a weight-bearing activity and this means that the increasing weight of pregnancy will not affect your ability to continue. It is advisable to start on a regular cycling schedule before trying to conceive but even after conception this is safe. Remember always to start very easily and increase slowly. Stationary bicycles are probably the safest to use. With stationary ones you avoid road traffic accidents and other risks.

Swimming

Water supports your weight during this activity. This is the best program and you may even forget that you are pregnant. Some facilities provide aquanatal classes with qualified instructors. Medical evidence indicates that submersion in water may help reduce leg edema (swelling) which affects at least 50 percent of pregnant women. It is postulated that the pressure of the water squeezes excess water from your body tissues into your bloodstream, which then gets rid of it. Avoid Jacuzzis, hot tubs, and water that is above 100°F, you body overheats!

Other Sports

There some sports that must be avoided. Skiing or horseback riding can cause traumatic injury to the fetus or separation of the placenta. Scuba diving has been associated with fetal hypoxia (lack of oxygen) and should be avoided. Tennis involve frequent turning, twisting, and jumping are not highly recommended during pregnancy.

The body changes

The body changes

The body changes

The body changes

You may not notice any changes on the first day of fertilization since it has just started.

Changes in the baby

On the first day, the egg and sperm nuclei fuse to form a structure called the zygote. There is mixing of genetic material and within 12hours, the zygote creates a copy of it self. At this point the sex of the baby is determined. The are two sex chromosomes ( genetic material is carried in the chromosomes) X and Y. Females carry both X chromosomes and males carry the X and Y chromosomes. In preparation for fertilization, the egg losses one of the X pair while the sperm may carry either the X or the Y. So during the fusion, either XX or XY end up producing a girl (xx) or a boy (XY). There is no clear evidence that timing the time of fertilization can determine the sex of the baby.

Lifestyle

Congratulations! Now that you are pregnant, you have about 40 weeks ahead of you. Your life, body changes, needs, feelings and above all your baby will require special attention and care. A few things are of paramount importance to you and your baby during this period. Now that you have decided to have this baby, you will need to observe the following:

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists suggests the following exercise guidelines for pregnancy:

  1. Make sure that your heart rate does not exceed 140 beats per minute.
  2. Never engage in strenuous activities for more than 1530 minutes. Before you do any exercise sessions, have at least five minutes of warm-up and follow it with a gradual cool-down period.
  3. Do not over heat your baby. Your inner body temperature should not exceed 38°C, or 101°F. Make sure that you guard against increasing your internal body temperature when exercising. Avoid getting too hot, work out less strenuously and for shorter periods than usual, and exercise in cool weather. And never exercise when you have a fever.
  4. Never exercise while lying flat on your back after the fourth month.
  5. Have regular exercise at least three times per week. See exercise program.
  6. Avoid jerky and bouncy movements. There is an increased laxity of your joints during pregnancy.
  7. Drink plenty of liquids before and after exercise to prevent dehydration.
  8. Make sure you wash your hands before and after handling foods. Thoroughly wash your vegetables before cooking or eating them.

Pregnancy Introduction

Pregnancy Introduction

Pregnancy Introduction

Introduction

The beginning of your menses starts from the first day of your period. If pregnancy is to take place, this is counted as the first week of your pregnancy. The ovaries do have immature egg cells (oocytes) resting within and may be invisible to ultrasound.

During the course of the cycle, as menstrual bleeding slows down, several of these immature egg cells begin to mature inside small, protective, nourishing, fluid-filled sacs called follicles. It has been estimated to last about 150 days to mature an egg. During ovulation, the follicles start becoming dominant and grow faster. A number of hormones help in this physiology to grow and mature the egg from the ovaries. In the event that you get pregnant, this is counted as your second week. Conception is known to occur during the second week counting from the first day of your last menstrual period.

The egg catching process

Once released, the egg is ‘caught’ up by the fallopian tubes and starts being transported to the uterus. The ‘finger like structures’ at the end of fallopian tubes, also called cillia, help to direct the egg down into the uterus. This process is called ovulation. At this same time, the uterine lining begins to thicken and the cervical mucus thins out to allow the sperm to swim through it more easily. The egg will however remain in the tube for at least 48 hour anticipating the arrival of the sperm for the special moment of fertilization. The follicle that released the egg forms the corpus luteum and starts to release progesterone that helps maintain the uterine lining. This is aimed at preparing for implantation in case fertilization takes place. In case the egg is not fertilized by a sperm, it is passed out of the body through the vagina. It is so small that it cannot be seen. The lining of the womb is also shed in the monthly period of bleeding.

Egg meets Sperm

In the event of coitus taking place, up to about 250 million sperm are released in the vagina. This begins a race to reach the top, where the egg is waiting. This being a race where the strongest will survive, it is estimated that the fastest sperm will reach the egg in about 30 minutes. In the womb are secretions produced by the woman that help channeling the sperm through. The environment is thought to be alkaline and helps the sperm to swim up. An acidic environ will kill the sperm. It takes the sperm 3 to 5 days to survive in the womb. Some may be released before ovulation. The timing of ovulation and or deposition of sperm at the vagina is important for pregnancy to take place. Once this happens fertilization will take place and the fertilized egg travels down to the womb for implantation. Once the sperms meet the egg, they have a hard task to do, penetrate the egg «»shell»». It may last about an hour for this to be successful. Only the strongest will make it.

The sperm with their drill like action will finally penetrate the shell and shed off the covering. The successful sperm then swims in to a fluid space surrounding the egg. An important thing to note is that several sperm will penetrate the shell and get in to a space between the shell and the egg membrane but only one will penetrate this membrane to fertilize the egg. The genes from the sperm are contained in the head and once inside the egg the head swells to become a nucleus which fuses with the nucleus from the egg to start a new process of creating a new individual. If fertilization occurs, the corpus luteum (the previous follicle that released the egg) persists and gets bigger during the first few weeks after conception. This happens in response to the hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG) produced by the early pregnancy. The corpus luteum provides important hormone progesterone that prompts the uterus to provide increasing amounts of blood and nourishment to the growing baby. Occasionally, an ovary creates more than one dominant follicle at a time, thereby producing two or more mature egg cells. If all the eggs are fertilized, this could result in multiple pregnancies—twins, triplets, or more.

Minor Complications during Pregnancy & management

Minor Complications during Pregnancy & management

Minor Complications during Pregnancy & management

There are a few minor complications that can occur during and after childbirth.  Many of these last the whole pregnancy and are accompanied by other problems.

Morning sickness:

The condition, which can range from feelings of nausea to continuous vomiting, can occur at any time of the day or all through the day.

For some women it lasts throughout the pregnancy, but for most that have it usually fades after the third month.

Management

  1. Healthy eating – fruits and vegetables
  2. Exercise.
  3. Taking Sips of hot Water before walking up form bed or biting some biscuits between meals
  4. Eat small amounts of food regularly, drink lots of fluids, and avoid foods that make you feel nauseous.

Constipation

  • The bowel absorbs more fluid during pregnancy and food moves slower down the intestines.
  • This can lead to constipation which can in turn trigger haemorrhoids – protrusions from the anus which bleed and can be painful and itchy.

NOTE Pregnant women with constipation are discouraged from taking laxatives.

Management

  1. Eating lots of fruit and vegetables, and drinking plenty of fluids
  2. Exercise regularly,
  3. Avoiding standing still for long periods.
  4. There are also creams and suppositories on the market which lessen the irritation caused by hemorrhoids.

    Management

    • regular exercise
    • avoid long periods standing still, sitting with crossed legs and wearing tight-fitting underwear
    • sit and sleep with your feet up
    • avoid excessive weight gain during pregnancy
    • use ice packs

Cramps

Sudden muscle spasms it mostly occurs at night and can be extremely painful.

Management

Massaging the affected area – often the feet – can help, as can flexing the foot and regular exercise.

Indigestion and heartburn

Indigestion can be due to hormonal changes in the early stages of pregnancy.

In the later months, it is likely to be a result of the foetus pushing the stomach upwards.

Management

  • Eat little and often, instead of big meals, avoiding fatty and spicy food and sitting up straight when eating.
  • Heartburn is as the result of the relaxation of muscles at the stomach opening which  causes excess acid in the stomach.
  • It is most likely to occur when lying flat so sleeping with feet propped up and avoiding food for two or three hours before going to bed.

Backache

Ligaments become looser during pregnancy in preparation for labour, but this can put more pressure on the lower back and pelvis, causing backache.

This is likely to increase in the later stages of pregnancy as the foetus gets heavier.

Management

  1. Avoiding lifting heavy objects,
  2. Keeping the back straight when lifting objects,
  3. wearing flat shoes and sitting with the back well supported.
  4. Exercises which involve arching the back can also help.

Other complications include:

  • faintness
  • needing to urinate often (caused by the baby pressing on the bladder)
  • bleeding gums (due to hormonal changes)
  • stretch marks, swollen feet (due to water retention)
  • vaginal discharge
  • Headaches.