Taking Care Of Toddler Skin In Winter

You may remember that Chrissy wrote a post on spotting the early signs of lung cancer for us last year, and today, she is sharing her top 3 tips for taking care of toddler skin in the winter time!


Lots of children suffer with eczema and I know how dry even my skin gets during the winter – I hope that these tips will help someone who’s little one is suffering in the cold weather!


Thank you Chrissy!
 

3 TOP TIPS TO HELP YOUR TODDLER’S SKIN DURING THE WINTER

British winters can be freezing – last winter’s average temperature was at 3.6 degrees – but they can also be magical and full of exciting new experiences for your toddler. That said, raising toddlers in the chilly climate has its own set of challenges. Between helping them battle inevitable colds to keeping them warm and occupied, making sure their skin remains healthy and soft should be the least of your worries. Here are the basics for keeping their young complexions happy and smooth as you introduce your child to the wonders of winter.

Be prepared for skin ailments

As mentioned above, it’s all but inevitable that your little one will come down with some kind of sickness. Runny noses coupled with the contrasting indoor and outdoor environments are the perfect recipe for painfully chapped lips and noses for both yourself and your toddler. In addition, winter weather conditions make your child even more susceptible to skin conditions such as eczema, cold sores, and wind burn. The good news is that there are plenty of natural remedies for these ailments that can reduce discomfort and hasten healing. Stock up on these moisturising treatments such as petroleum jellies and aloe vera gels so that you can soothe an ailment as soon as it appears.

Protection from the elements

As unappealing as the chilly weather and short hours of sunlight can be, venturing outdoors and breathing fresh air for just a couple of hours a day is a great way to keep your toddler occupied, soak up vital Vitamin D and banish fatigue brought on by inactivity. That said, the cool dryness of winter air sucks the moisture from your toddler’s skin as much as it does to yours, and the sun can still do damage even though it doesn’t feel like it’s doing anything at all. To protect your child, make sure you apply sunscreen of SPF 15 or above. It’s also important to dress them well in a coat, a warm hat, scarf, and insulated gloves. Be aware of bundling them up too much though, as this can cause blocked glands and skin irritation.

When indoors, beware of keeping the heating too toasty as an artificially hot, low-humidity climate will also dry out your and your toddler’s skin. Make the air warm, but just cool enough to be wearing a couple of light layers.

Extra care for healthy skin

Your daily routines within your home can have a considerable impact on the health of your toddler’s skin in winter time, and there are a number of simple changes you can make to stop ailments occurring in the first place. Perhaps the most obvious habit to make is to moisturise your child straight after their bath when their skin i

s still damp to lock in as much hydration as possible. However, be careful of the products you use on your toddler’s skin. Go for no-fragrance, soap-free cleaners suitable for sensitive skin to best retain skin moisture and avoid skin irritation. In addition, keep bath time short and in tepid rather than hot water and pat your toddler dry to be as kind as possible to their young skin.

Though it comes with its own set of tough challenges, winter can still prove to be a delightful time with your toddler. By applying nourishing natural treatments to ailments as they appear, protecting them from the harsh climates, and adapting skin-friendly household habits, you’ll maintain your toddler’s smooth, healthy skin and make winter a wonderland to be enjoyed by the whole family.

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What Hyperemesis Gravidarum meant for me

This week, I spoke to my lovely friend Becki about her experience of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. For those of you who don’t know, around 10,000 women in the UK suffer from Hyperemesis Gravidarum (HG) every year. It is often dismissed as normal morning sickness in pregnancy, but in reality can leave the women who experience it with PTSD, a torn oesophagus, burst blood vessels and eroded tooth enamel. 



What did you know about HG before you were pregnant?

I can remember reading a news article online about the Duchess of Cambridge suffering from it when she was pregnant with Princess Charlotte and feeling sympathy for her, but not really understanding exactly what it was. It was initially described by the media as “extreme morning sickness” which I’ve come to learn is not the case at all. I knew next to nothing and I didn’t think I’d ever need to educate myself. My friend Roo has also suffered with it, but I had no idea to what extent it affected her- it was pure ignorance. 

 What treatments were you offered through your pregnancy to combat HG? Did they work?

When I was finally diagnosed in September 17, I was initially prescribed cyclizine and ondansetron-both anti-emetics. I was advised to take them in tandem with each other, but the ondansetron soon ran out. It’s the more expensive for the NHS to prescribe. Unfortunately for me, cyclizine didn’t do the trick on its own. I continued to take it, but it wasn’t effective and I ended up back in hospital a few times, quite poorly.  People did make suggestions for foods that helped them. There were some foods that helped for a time, but my body seemed to tire of them really quickly and I’d end up not even able to think about them, let alone eat them, without throwing up. 
In the end, rest and putting my body and it’s needs first was the only thing that kept me going. It meant missing out on a lot of stuff and sacrificing things but I needed to be selfish.

What strategies or coping mechanisms did you employ to deal with your HG?

Hypnobirthing techniques and mindfulness breathing really helped, especially when I felt completely overwhelmed emotionally.  Baths helped too. Washing my hair always made me feel better again after feeling really lousy. Having a risk assessment and plan in place at work, as well as a few key people I trusted who I could warn if I was having a bad day and they’d keep an eye out for me. 

 What was your HG like at its best and worse?

At my best- I could manage a nice meal and a day out and go to bed and sleep without being sick. Our anniversary weekend away was one such time.
 
When it was bad- I remember kneeling on my bathroom floor at 3am, after being sick for the 7th time that night, crying and apologising to my husband for the umpteenth time, and just wishing I hadn’t gotten pregnant. 

At its worst – We thought we were losing our baby, and could do nothing about it. 
 

 

How did HG affect your mental health?

It made me feel so guilty. All the time. Guilty that I was possibly and inadvertently harming my baby, that they were suffering (they weren’t), guilty for putting my husband through it, guilty for bailing on parties and birthdays and events, guilty for being angry at people who just didn’t understand and made flippant comments, guilty for wishing I wasn’t pregnant, when I knew full well I had friends who were struggling to conceive. I felt guilty for myself, that I wasn’t having the pregnancy I had envisioned and I felt like I’d cheated myself somehow. 
 

 What do you wish people knew about HG?

That it isn’t “bad morning sickness” or even morning sickness at all. It’s a genetic and hereditary condition that affects around 1% of pregnancies and has an 84% chance of recurrence in subsequent pregnancies. It’s so debilitating that some days getting out of bed is hard; keeping water and food down is hard. I lost weight in pregnancy because I struggled to keep things down- that was a huge worry. Some women report being sick of 50 times a day. 

Personally, I wish people knew how lonely HG is. It’s so lonely sitting on the floor of your bathroom crying because you’re in pain from the stomach muscles used to be sick, or your teeth ache and throat hurts from the acidic vomit. It’s hard but I promise you, it does go. Within minutes of her being born, my nausea lifted and I honestly felt instantly better. 
 

How can family and friends best support you if you have HG?

  • Be there. My husband was a complete and utter rock. He was up with me every day and  night no matter how many times I was sick; he rubbed my back, held my hair, let me cry and didn’t judge or make me feel like I was doing a bad job. He helped educate those around us who just didn’t know and ensured I was supported at work. Having a support network was one of the most fundamental blocks we needed during our pregnancy and we are really grateful for that.
  •  Be accommodating. If someone you know has it, expect them to cancel on you. Don’t make them feel guilty about it. But also, don’t stop inviting them! There are good days where I could go out and I honestly lived for them. 
  • Educate yourself on the facts surrounding HG. My family were brilliant at doing that and so knew triggers and anxiety points and how to avoid them. My Dad and husband in particular loved the phase I went through where only a certain fast food chain’s greasy burgers and strawberry milkshake would stay down!
  • Avoid strong perfume or cologne- my poor Husband had to retire his expensive bottle because I couldn’t stand the smell. It still remains a trigger for me. 
  • When you go to the loo, run some toilet cleaner or bleach round the bowl and floor. Not for your benefit, but for the poor girl that can’t face cleaning it but knows she’ll have her head in it later! 
  • Remind them they’re doing an incredible job. Pregnancy is tough full stop. HG in pregnancy is horrible. 

What was the most helpful and unhelpful thing people said and did in regards to your pregnancy?

The most helpful thing was along the lines of  “Yeah. This is really really crap and it suck that you have to go through this. I’m sorry”. To have acknowledgement from someone that actually yeah it wasn’t great and glamorous (!) was so affirming and refreshing. It didn’t make it go away and it didn’t make me physically better, but it made me feel less lonely. 
The least helpful comments included “It’ll all be worth it in the end”, “maybe it’s all in your head?” “It’s just bad morning sickness- mine stopped at X weeks”, “I hear ginger helps”, “Try eating certain foods or doing certain exercise, maybe

that’ll help”, “it’ll soon be over and you’ll miss being pregnant”, “maybe you won’t have it with the next baby”… I could go on!

What advice (if any) would you give to someone who has (or thinks they have) HG?

Tell your health practitioners- your doctor, midwife, consultant whoever. There is much more advice and info out there now, so if you think you have it, find out about HG and take that info with you. Not all maternity health care professionals are fully up to date or even aware of the symptoms. You CAN take anti emetics safely in pregnancy. If you need them, ask for them! 

Ketones are NOT a lone accurate indicator of dehydration in HG. Make sure that if you aren’t well for a long period of time, you get yourself checked and if necessary, admitted to hospital and on an IV drip.

**I’m not a medical professional, but at times I had to really push to be listened to**

There’s so much support out there. Pregnancy sickness support UK is an incredible charity that helped me through and continues to help others. It’s partnering with specialists throughout the world to develop more research all the time. Their helpline is a lifeline for when you are really struggling, because these are real women who have experienced it and they can give you practical advice, as well as a shoulder to cry on when you feel really lonely. 

Embrace every craving. Seriously. You may only like it for a short period! One day I chowed down on an entire bag of iced gems. They revisited me a few hours later, but I really enjoyed being nostalgic for a time! 

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

 My blog, “Dear Luna: Love letters to my Daughter” talks quite openly about my experience in pregnancy and HG and the various times I was hospitalised.

Would you like to know more about Hyperemesis Gravidarum, or had experience with it yourself? Let us know in the comments below

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The Trampolining Trend and Why it’s Actually Amazing!

If there’s one thing little 2 year old Olivia loves, it’s trampolines.

Actually, in all fairness, it’s not just her! Kiera loves it too and she’s about to turn 9. Heck, even I love it and I’m 23!

But there are soooooo many benefits. You might think that trampoline parks are like soft play hell x1000, but they’re actually pretty cool and if you haven’t tried taking the kids out to one, you most definitely should!

We, as a family, are a bit of an expert at trampoline parks. We seem to have tested out quite a few! There’s Airhop in Guildford, Gravity Force in Camberley, and Flip Out in Ashford (they also have locations in Southampton, Basingstoke, Portsmouth, Chatham, Nottingham and more, but Ashford is the only one we’ve sampled!) and I have actually recently bought an annual membership at Gravity Force for me and Olivia! £8 per month for unlimited jumping, excluding their Gravity Fit sessions, but that’s a bargain for me considering how often I take Olivia. It’s easy to make it a weekly thing every weekend and it never loses its charm!

So, why do we love them so much?

First of all, they are nothing like soft play. There are screaming kids, yes, but the kids tend to be slightly older and better behaved, even in the tots sessions! They have far more space to run around in and loads more variety in what they can do. While Olivia loves a soft play, she would always choose to go trampolining over that any day, and so would I!

Although there’s always a risk that someone will end up with bumps or bruises, there are designated ‘court monitors’ dotted about to minimise the risk of any children getting hurt. Unlike at a soft play, you haven’t got to crawl on your hands and knees through a tunnel that’s really only big enough for a 6 year old to track down your crying tot after someone else’s kid has pushed them over!

It’s not just the thrill for the kids that makes them so worthwhile though, there’s actually a huge health benefit to trampolining – it’s an hour of exercise that your children otherwise wouldn’t be getting. And let me tell you, 20 minutes of jumping around or running around after your kids would get you breathing heavy, too! Also, for the kids, it’s 100% fitness disguised as fun, so if you have children who hate anything sporty, I guarantee they would probably not apply that same disgust to trampolining!

I’m not sure about the other parks, but Gravity Force near us also do tailored Gravity Fit sessions which I am yet to try! There are loads of different kinds of fitness sessions, some of which are even suitable for older kids to join in.

I know, you’re thinking ‘why can’t I just get my own trampoline and let the kids run wild?’

You can, but we have our own trampoline in the garden and Olivia still would prefer to go to the trampoline park. They often have foam pits, dodgeball, basketball, and tons of other activities. Plus, outdoor trampolines don’t get used very often in the winter. The trampoline parks we go to are indoors, nice and warm, and again, have so much more space for the kids to run around in!

Not only that, but it’s an hour’s session to get you out of your god forsaken house. I get sick of being stuck indoors and when you have something like this close by, it’s a great idea to get everyone out of the house, away from electronics and loving life.

For us, we really see the benefit because of the age differences between our two girls. Kiera is 8 going on 9 and Olivia is almost 2 and a half, but yet this is somewhere we can take them both and they both love it so much. Yes, there are loads of places we could take both kids, but actually we end up having to split up into two families – me and Olivia, Jamie and Kiera – so that the kids can do things for their age groups.

Husband back home means Daddy Day Care is in session!

Trampolining really is great fun for both of them and Jamie and I can tag team so one of us can sit and have a break, or we can both get involved and have a huge dodgeball fight with both of the kids (mostly aiming at each other).

Do you take your children trampolining? We’d love to hear your experiences!

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Tips and tricks for tummy bug troubles

Unfortunately, it’s the time of year where stomach bugs are rife. I was recently in the hospital twice in the space of two days, as my little one had a severe case of gastroenteritis. While I was there, I had many in depth conversations with paediatricians, nurses and the matron, who gave me many materials and ideas about the prevention and management of gastroenteritis, and how to recognise the signs of dehydration.

Gastroenteritis (or more commonly known as the ‘tummy bug’) is an infection of the intestines and stomach which causes vomiting and diarrhoea (D&V). It is often caused by infections like the norovirus, or rotavirus, though it can also be bacterial.
D&V caused by tummy bugs is common in children younger than 5, however lots of diarrhoea and vomiting can cause dehydration, which is a serious complication. This is unusual, and most children can be cared for at home following advice from a qualified healthcare provider.  In most cases, diarrhoea usually lasts 5-7 days and has come to an end by 2 weeks, while vomiting usually only lasts between 1-3 days.
While we were at the hospital, the paediatrician told me that parents should avoid taking their children to the GP if they suspect gastroenteritis, as it is spread so quickly and easily. Instead, parents should call 111 (UK) or their GP if they are concerned. Just to recap, the symptoms of gastroenteritis are:
  • feeling sick
  • sudden, watery diarrhoea,
  • mild fever
  • vomiting, which can be projectile
  • abdominal craps
  • poor appetite

When to seek medical advice for your child

As gastroenteritis is spread so quickly, it is best to care for your child at home to avoid infecting others. However, you should seek medical assistance if your child:
  • has blood in their poo, or green vomit
  • has been vomiting for three days or more
  • has had diarrhoea for more than a week
  • has a serious underlying condition and also has D&V
  • has symptoms of dehydration –
    • sunken eyes
    • cold extremities
    • mouth and lips appear dry
    • seems to be getting worse, will not take fluids or vomits immediately after drinking
    • are floppy, unresponsive or lethargic
    • skin appears to be more baggy than usual
    • much higher pulse rate than usual
    • they have had more than 8 loose nappies per day
    • they do not have more than 2 wet nappies per day
    • no tears when crying
    • sunken fontanelle in babies

Preventing the spread

  1. Children should not attend any kind of childcare or school while they have vomiting or diarrhoea, and should not return until at least 48 hours have passed since the last episode of vomiting or diarrhoea.
  2. Hand washing is the best way to prevent the spread of gastroenteritis. This includes the obvious times, like after using the toilet, changing nappies, or touching food. Do not rely on alcohol hand gels.
  3. Towels and other personal items should not be shared between children or other members of the family while someone is suffering with gastroenteritis.
  4. Children should not use a swimming pool for 14 days after their last episode of diarrhoea.
  5. Disinfect any surfaces and items that could be contaminated.

Treatment

Most cases of gastroenteritis can be treated at home, with supervision from medical professionals in more severe cases.
Children should be encouraged to drink plenty of fluids, even if it is only small sips at a time. Breastfed babies should continue to be breastfed as long as they are tolerating the breast milk.
Oral Rehydration Solutions (ORS) such as dioralyte may be used, which is available without prescription from a pharmacy or supermarket.
A note on liquids – liquids are absorbed by the body very quickly, so if your child vomits ten minutes after drinking, it is highly likely that most of the fluids have already been absorbed by the body, and fluids should continue to be given.

Children who are vomiting

Small sips of liquid should be given to begin with, and if this is not vomited, the amount can be increased. Generally the amount of liquid a child should aim for in this phase is 1.5 to 2.5 oz per lb of body weight in a 24 hour period – for example we were told to aim for 1oz per hour for my little one. Once the vomiting lessens, a more normal diet may be trialed the next day. We found it easiest to start giving 5-10mls every 5 minutes, and did so using a bottle we would have usually used for milk – ORS can be kept in the fridge for 24 hours after mixing it from a sachet, and it is both easier to monitor intake, and less messy on your child’s part!

Children who have diarrhoea but little vomiting

These children should be given more liquid to combat the liquid lost through loose stools. However, this liquid can be given in larger, less frequent amounts, and children can attempt to continue their normal diet. If your child has significant diarrhoea, it is advisable to stop dairy products during this time as these foods can make diarrhoea worse.
 
While it can seem really daunting to care for your child while they’re unwell, rest assured that gastroenteritis is very common. There are around 5 billion cases of it every year worldwide, so you’re not alone.
What have your experiences of the tummy bug been like?
 
Sources:
Cochran, W. (2018). Gastroenteritis in Children – Children’s Health Issues – MSD Manual Consumer Version. [online] MSD Manual Consumer Version. Available at: https://www.msdmanuals.com/en-gb/home/children-s-health-issues/digestive-disorders-in-children/gastroenteritis-in-children [Accessed 14 Oct. 2018].
 
Nhsinform.scot. (2018). Gastroenteritis. [online] Available at: https://www.nhsinform.scot/illnesses-and-conditions/stomach-liver-and-gastrointestinal-tract/gastroenteritis [Accessed 14 Oct. 2018].
 
Nice.org.uk. (2009). Diarrhoea and vomiting caused by gastroenteritis in under 5s: diagnosis and management | Guidance and guidelines | NICE. [online] Available at: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg84 [Accessed 14 Oct. 2018].
Technology, H. (2018). Home. [online] East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust. Available at: http://www.esht.nhs.uk/ [Accessed 14 Oct. 2018].
 
With thanks to helpful conversations for the staff on Kippling ward, ESHT.

Frank Fridays : the realities of being a disabled parent

I’m honest with my friends about my health struggles, and I also write for The Mighty about some of my experiences. Now I feel it’s time to open up to you, the Mummykind family.

The truth is that my health is often poor, but I don’t make a habit of advertising it. Honestly, I find it so difficult to be honest about my struggles as a disabled mum, because so often people hit me with ‘if you’re disabled, don’t you think it was selfish to have a baby?’. It stings because they don’t understand that I’m a good mum, only that I have difficulties and that must mean I’m a bad parent, right?

Newsflash. EVERYONE has difficulties. It’s how you deal with it that matters.

I’ll try and keep the medical jargon to a minimum while explaining some of what I have to deal with day to day – having dealt with some of my conditions since birth I’ve been told that I sound like I ate a medical textbook!

I currently have seven conditions diagnosed, with more in the pipeline (lucky me, eh!)

Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – This is one of my most prevalent illnesses. I was born with EDS, and while every day is different, most days are an uphill struggle. EDS is a rare condition that affects connective tissues. Connective tissues are present in skin, organs, blood vessels, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones (so basically everything). Symptoms I deal with every day are loose, unstable joints that dislocate every day, chronic pain, easy bruising, muscle weakness, fatigue, and problems with internal organs.

Orthostatic Hypotension – When my new Orthopaedic Surgeon heard I had this, he said ‘really? But you aren’t old!’. Well, newsflash Mr, young people can have Orthostatic Hypotension too. Put basically, when I change position from lying to sitting, or sitting to standing, my blood pressure plummets to dangerous levels, and I lose consciousness and faint.

Mast Cell Activation Syndrome – the cells in my body that react when you have an allergic reaction are over active, and my body spontaneously develops new allergies all the time, even to something that was safe yesterday.
Gastroparesis – my stomach can’t empty itself as effectively as other people’s can, which means food stays in there for far too long. Glamorous.
Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis – I’m super tired all the time! Yay!
I also have Celiac disease and Asthma, but those seem pretty pale in comparison!
Now that’s out of the way (and well done if you’ve got this far, medical stuff can be snooze inducing!) hopefully some of what I’m about to say will make more sense!
I think it’s important to start with the fact that the realities I experience living life as a disabled parent will be very different to someone else’s. Life is so variable, and what’s difficult for me might seem like a walk in the park to someone else, and vice versa.
The biggest reality I’m trying to deal with right now is that parenting my daughter is nothing like I thought it would be. Though I try to do the best I can, there are days like today where I really can’t function enough to look after myself, let alone my little one.  I’m blessed to have my husband at home with me all the time (fainting unpredictably means I can’t often be left alone) and my wonderful John is often left to care for my little climber while I have to rest. I often feel a real sense of guilt because I’m not living up to the perfect image in my mind of what a mother should be. I’m faced with the reality that I can’t do all I want to for her all the time. And that’s ok. It doesn’t make me a bad parent for having to take a step back and recover my strength. It’s a good example of self-care to set my daughter, if anything.
It also strikes me that my monkey won’t grow up in the same way other children will. While it’s great that both her mum and dad are home with her all the time, it worries me that I’ll miss out on important things later down the line because of my health. Because my illnesses are so unpredictable, i’m often fine in the morning and struggling in the evening, or the other way around, and that can be difficult to understand for one so little.  I might not be able to take her to the park when she wants to go, and I might have to watch her play from a distance rather than getting involved.
Not being afraid to ask for help is a big lesson I’ve learnt over the last few months. It is practically impossible to look after a crawling explorer while you’ve got a hip that is constantly dislocating, you’ve got a migraine which is making you vomit and see stars, you’ve taken enough prescription medication to tranquillise a horse, and you’re dealing with an allergic reaction from something (and it really could be anything at this point). When I first asked for help, I have to admit that I felt a little ashamed, as though I was being naughty for asking for help. But that’s when I realised we have the saying ‘it takes a village’ for a reason. And in our family’s case, it really does.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. While I may have painted a bit of a dreary picture, I get to see my daughter grow up in a way most people don’t. With any luck, I won’t miss any firsts, and while physically I might not be able to do as much as I want to, I’m still able to raise my daughter to be a kind and considerate human being who is already being exposed to diversity at a young age.
While I may struggle more than most, my struggles don’t define me, and more importantly, they will never beat me.
If you’re intrigued by Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, check this awareness video I was involved in!
What realities are you struggling to come to terms with?

Pyloric Stenosis: when vomiting isn’t just reflux

If you’re reading this, chances are you have (or have had) a very ‘sicky’ baby. Chances are, your friends and family told you ‘it’s just reflux’. And fair enough, it might be. But it might not be. If you’re not convinced, read on to find out more.

My little monkey was always a very ‘sicky’ child. Ever since she was born, she’d be sick after every feed. While that sounds normal, the amount of sick wasn’t. She’d always vomit up at least half of her bottle, and then cry because she was hungry. We endured it for 3 weeks before we insisted on her having a medical assessment. She was diagnosed with a dairy allergy, and we were told that a hypoallergenic milk prescription would fix the issue. It didn’t. We took her back to our doctor countless times, and were berated for wasting GP time as she just ‘had reflux’. We tried countless reflux medications, but everything just seemed to make the issue worse.

Once my little one had reached 7 weeks, I’d had enough. After an evening of being covered in around 18oz of projectile vomit, I took her to A&E and insisted they run blood tests on my daughter. Sure enough, they diagnosed her with Pyloric Stenosis.

Pyloric Stenosis is a condition in which the valve allowing food to pass from the stomach to the intestine becomes too thick, and the hole closes. This means that nothing can get through, which leads to malnutrition, dehydration, and even death. Symptoms include extreme vomiting, lethargy, constipation, and less wet nappies.

Once admitted to hospital, we had to watch an NG tube be placed into our little one, to drain her stomach. She had an IV inserted to keep her fluid intake up, along with some vitamins, but she wasn’t allowed to eat. We were in hospital for 3 days in total before she had her operation, and we weren’t allowed to feed her anything, which was torture when she cried.

Eventually, we were transferred by blue light ambulance to a specialist children’s hospital for her to have laparoscopic surgery. The surgery took around an hour, and my little soldier had 3 doses of infant paracetamol in total during recovery. (What a brave little thing, adults have doses of morphine after similar surgeries).

Luckily, after having her surgery, the Pyloric Stenosis was cured and we never had to return to hospital for the same issue, however, others aren’t so lucky. PS can recur in 1% of cases, and for some people, it becomes a chronic issue which requires constant returning to hospital.

All in all, we were very lucky. Honestly, I think my stubborn nature went a long way in getting her diagnosed, as before I put my foot down, doctors were dismissing me as the ‘hypochondriac mum’.

What can we take away from this? Well,

1) Trust your instincts.
Mother’s intuition is REAL, and it can save you so much bother if you listen to it. If you think something is wrong with your little one, get them checked. The worst that can happen is that a qualified professional can explain to you (at length, if needed) that your baby is healthy, and reassure you.

2) Know your stuff.
While doctors often chastise patients for having a look at good old Doctor Google, sometimes it is your ally, and a tool to be used. Before Mini Me was diagnosed, a doctor incredulously asked me “what do you think is wrong with her then?” When I replied ‘Pyloric Stenosis’, a lightbulb obviously went off for him. He ordered several blood tests and an ultrasound, and sure enough, she was diagnosed. While I’m not saying that you should use Google for everything, but when you’ve been having the same issue for weeks, nothing seems to be helping and things aren’t adding up, maybe you should consider it.

3) Be kind to yourself.
While we were in hospital, I went through a phase of blaming myself for my monkey’s illness. As a mum, its only natural to want to fix things, but some things can’t be fixed by guilt. No, most things can’t be fixed by guilt. I felt awful for the fact I hadn’t put my foot down sooner, but eventually, I was just glad that I had done it at all. I often think about what would have happened if I hadn’t said anything to our doctors, and I’m so glad I did, because the outcome could have been so much worse.

Unfortunately, Pyloric Stenosis can’t be prevented, but it can be cured, and more new mums should know that it exists. If your little one is struggling with vomiting, especially in the first few weeks, please get them checked out, and if you’re unsure, get a second opinion. While Pyloric Stenosis is rare, it isn’t worth excluding as an option.

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Clothing for Curvy Mummas – Where is hot and where is not!

In the first few months after I had Flo, I had sort of accepted that my life as Harriet was over. I think “accepting” this was my way of rationalising that it was okay to not give a shit about myself anymore. I had signed myself up for a life of over sized tops and leggings and I was more than okay with that.

A few months and a few mental health medications down the line, I was clearly in a better mind set. I accepted myself and made sure that I accepted body. After all, it had grown a perfect little mini me, so I couldn’t have been that bad, right?

I slowly got back into who I was. I’ve always enjoyed expressing myself, I’d always loved being different and realising that there were markets that cater for my new shape, identity, style and body really allowed me to get back to finding who I am.

Trawling through ASOS and favouriting items until I’m brave enough to buy them (or they go down in price!) has played a massive part in rediscovering ‘Harriet’-

I couldn’t tell you how many things I’ve tried on, with my mum whilst shouting “THIS WOULD HAVE LOOKED SO NICE ON ME BEFORE THIS” *points at stomach*….
or how many kooky items I’ve got for “jokes” that have looked gorgeous on me!
All I can say is thank goodness for free delivery and refunds!

Here are my favourite plus sized retailers and why,,,

1. ASOS – In my opinion ASOS is the biggest contender in the plus size game. Not only does ASOS have it’s own plus size range (ASOS CURVE) but it has plenty of other well known plus size ranges available on its app and website including but not limited to New Look Curves, Maya Plus, Daisy Street, misguided, boohoo, Chi Chi, John Zack Plus, Levis Plus, River Island, Little Mistress, Unique21, ect. With a fantastic range, massive variety, frequent sales and a great customer rewards system – ASOS is by far my most frequented fashion retailer and app!


2. New Look Curves – I love that New Look uses the same fabrics and prints for all their women’s ranges. This means that regardless of a ladies size, they can wear what is on trend and feel comfortable rocking it. New Look’s clothing never fails to pull me in and I’m almost guaranteed to spend money every time I visit their website or store.


Tea Dress / New Look / size 22 / £20


3. Forever 21+ – Despite what the name says, I’m certainly over the age of 21 but always manage to find lovely pieces on F21. Generally their ranges seem to be targeted for slightly younger audiences, but I never seem to be sort of options in their sales! Their prices are generally fairly reasonable and despite their sizes not being conventional – 2x or 3x usually tend to fit me very well!

Cami Dress / Forever 21 / size 2X / £10


4. George – Unlike most supermarket brands ASDA’s george caters up to a size 24. Their size 24 is usually pretty generous and always fitted me very well, even at my biggest (four stone heavier than I am now!) … They don’t differentiate styles between sizes which means a size 24 lady can rock the same dress as a size 10 lady. Their clothes wash well, last well and look good.


Dungaree Dress & Top / ASDA’s George / size 20 / £20


5. Simply Be – although generally quite expensive, you can quite often find some pretty lovely pieces at Simply Be, most ranging in sizes up to 32. Simply Be does well at catering for all sorts of ladies in all sorts of walks of life.


And here is my guidance on other well known plus sized retailers that aren’t doing it for me like my top 5 do!

1. Pink Clove – Pink Clove have the right idea. With on trend designs and patterns, they could have so much to offer. The quality of Pink Clove’s clothing is pretty poor- I got a tropical print dress that only took one wash to bobble and a dress that unraveled at one of the seams just from being tried on once. I’d generally recommend to avoid unless you have time to throw away fixing clothes that should really last longer.

Baseball Dress / Pink Clove / size 22 / £12


2. River Island – With amazing quality and fantastic pieces to get anybody asking “where did you get that?” I couldn’t recommend River Island enough. However, their plus size range is incredibly pricey and really quite limited.


Cardigan / River Island / size 26 / £40


3. Supermarkets like Tesco’s F&F and Sainsbury’s TU – Are usually the perfect place to pick up a fashion bargain. With the same ranges available for both mainstream and plus sizes, they’re certainly a winner for me. Although the fact that most stores only cater up to size 18/20/22 many, many women are left out. Generally their women’s range sizes are also fairly stingy – I’ve known plenty of ladies who have had to get a size or two bigger than they actually are. That being said, I’ve heard Tesco’s F&F are planning on catering for up to size 30- of this is true, I hope all other supermarket fashion brands follow suite!


Top / Tesco’s F&F / size 22 / £7


4. Boohoo – Am I a size 18, or am I a size 28? With Boohoo I have literally no idea. With items almost identical to the smaller sized range, they have their heart in the right place, but the quality between that range and their plus sized range shows that plus size ladies certainly aren’t their priority.

Velvet Wrap Dress / Boohoo / size 28 (still doesn’t cover my bum through!) / £20

5. Yours – Primark quality at Topshop prices all because you’re considered plus size? Yeah, jog on. I avoid unless they’ve got a sale on and even then, I only stick to the lingerie section. I have heard that their men’s plus size range – Bad Rhino is actually pretty promising. I hope this serves as a reminder that you’re allowed to be you and have your own identity, even on this side of parenthood! Being dressed in what you want to wear can make such a massive difference to how you feel and how you see yourself. Treat yourself and see that even the little things can go a long way in making you feel more human. x

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Mental Health Monday: Struggling With Depression or Anxiety?



Today’s blog post is a special contribution from Anna Kucirkova. Anna speaks 3 languages has a passion for kids and writing. While she has been to many places in Europe and South East Asia she still wants to explore the rest of the world.

Struggling with depression or anxiety? Here’s what you need to know!

Anxiety and depression are broad terms that can induce some anxiety just by researching and thinking about them. Oftentimes the two conditions overlap, which creates a confusing set of symptoms that both overwhelms and causes you to feel extremely low. 

If you believe that you may be affected by anxiety and/or depression, take a deep breath–you are not alone. The effects are serious but also fully manageable with the right tactics.


In this article, we’re going to examine the vicious combination of anxiety and depression to understand how they are related and how the latest research helps us understand the connection between them.

What Are Anxiety and Depression?

depression
Anxiety disorders cover a broad spectrum, in large part because doctors, psychologists, and psychiatrists have created multiple categories of anxiety based on their triggers or causes. 
However, all anxiety  disorders are primarily characterized by a sense of excessive fear or tension. This is usually understood as a heightened response to a real or oftentimes perceived threat, or anticipation of a future threat that is often not based on situational reality. There are some exceptions to this, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder, which often creates a sense of anxiety without any connection to specific events. 

People suffering from anxiety experience disruptions in their behavior and ability to function normally. Many times, the heightened fear and anxiety responses associated  with anxiety disorders manifest themselves in panic attacks, which are a psychological and physiological response to a generalized sense of fear. Other symptoms may include difficulty breathing, rapid heart beat, a sense of tightness in the chest, difficulty concentrating, etc. 
Essentially, when the body is in the grip of anxiety, it has unnecessarily entered into fight-or-flight mode. The body thinks a threat is present and unleashes a host of chemicals that prepare the body to either fight or run from the perceived threat. 
Like anxiety, there are multiple types of depression which are typically categorized by causality or frequency of depressive episodes. General depression (often referred to as “clinical depression”) is diagnosed by a list of symptoms that range from the familiar to somewhat surprising. 
The primary and most well-known symptom is an overwhelming feeling of sadness and/or a loss of interest and enjoyment in most usual activities. The other symptoms associated with major depression include changes (decrease or increase) in appetite, insomnia or hypersomnia, changes in motor skills and cognition (either increased activity like fidgeting or decreased activity which results in a generalized lethargic state), constant fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, recurrent thoughts of death and suicidal ideation with or without specific plans for committing suicide, and changes in cognition. 

This last symptom is one which is often overlooked in the popular understa
nding of depression, which can lead to a further spiral as a person feels sad or “low” and subsequently struggles to complete tasks they previously found easy. Symptoms of depression last for two or more weeks and typically represent a substantial change from a person’s functionality and personality prior to the onset.

How Anxiety and Depression Affect You

Dealing with either or both sets of anxiety and depression symptoms can prove severely disruptive to daily activities, both because of anxiety-related heightened responses to relatively normal external inputs and because of depression-related suppression of energy, cognition, and general satisfaction. 
Psychologists are increasingly noting a correlation between anxiety and depression, which may be structural or psychological. Feeling anxious can lead to depression and feeling depressed can lead to anxiety, as in either case the mind starts to fixate on the recent change in mood, which further affects mood. 
depressed guy

Both disorders have widespread physiological effects, from changes in brain activity and energy level to reduced ability to function at the typical level for a given patient. Stress, anxiety, and depression all create vicious cycles that affect your immune system, digestive system, and adrenal responses, all of which have widespread trickle-down effects that can cause other medical issues. 

The most significant effects of anxiety and depression are widespread impacts on quality of life, including happiness, ability to complete basic self-care and educational or professional obligations, and mental and physical wellbeing. It’s not uncommon for people crippled by anxiety or depression to be unable to leave the house, go to work, or even perform simple tasks. The energy required to overcome the symptoms is simply too much. 

The combination of disorders can dramatically impact mood and even the ability to make it through the day without major setbacks like panic attacks or depressive episodes. The potential debilitating effects of these disorders underscore the need for accurate diagnosis and comprehensive treatment plans that allow you to resume life without the fear or weight of anxiety and depression.

How to Control Anxiety and Depression

depressed woman
The good news is that anxiety and depression can be effectively managed and treated. This sometimes feels impossible for those who are in the grips of either or both disorders, which is exactly why it is so important to seek help professionally and support from friends and family. 
The causes of anxiety and depression are widespread, and range from structural and chemical to situational and trauma-induced. Even though the symptoms may be similar, the diffuse causes and disorders require different treatments. 
Virtually all cases of anxiety and depression benefit from talking therapy, which allows patients to discuss their feelings with professionals who help externally process underlying thought patterns or experiences which contribute to depression and anxiety. 
Counselling (or therapy) is an important component of every treatment plan, because it provides consistency, accountability, and an objective external monitor of relative mental health who can assist in recommending further therapeutic practices and/or medications. 
Additional treatment plans include medication to balance serotonin levels or to calm hyperactive and anxious brains. Oftentimes, depression medications provide comprehensive benefits including improved cognition, renewed interest in preferred activities, and a more ‘normal’ function of neurological pathways, which can alleviate depression-related anxiety, too. 
Anxiety medications can come in both daily dosages for management and ‘emergency’ doses to calm down gripping panic attacks which bring physical and mental effects and can be potentially life threatening.
In addition to medications, supplements such as St. John’s Wort, Lavender, and SAM-e have proven successful in mitigating some of the most crippling side effects. 
Virtually every form of anxiety and depression benefits from natural lifestyle changes that improve holistic health and provid
e natural relief for many of the stressors and symptoms associated with each or both disorders. 


Regular exercise is a proven mood booster that actually changes your body chemistry. Even a vigorous walk releases endorphins that may not otherwise be activated, and the associated health benefits are known to improve self-confidence and provide a healthier, more targeted outlet for many of the latent emotions that manifest in anxiety/depression. 
Higher-intensity exercise is universally regarded as one of the most effective treatments for mild depression or anxiety, and meditative pursuits like yoga or certain hobbies are also considered to be effective ways to redirect mental energy and provide you with a sense of calm and ‘control’ that is often lacking when anxiety grips your mindset. 
Mental illnesses can be frustrating and overwhelming because they seem so vague and deep-set within your mind, but they also are unique in that they can be treated through mindfulness, conversation-based therapy, and small lifestyle changes that can radically alter your overall outlook and well-being.

Conclusion: Don’t Let Anxiety Or Depression Destroy You

Mental health is inextricably linked to physical health. Just as mental illness can have negative effects on your physical well-being, physical health problems can affect your mental health. These include poor diet, lack of exercise, sleep deprivation, and social isolation. By focusing on sustainable, healthy daily routines, you can set yourself up for success in battling anxiety and depression. 
And with professional counselling and potentially medication, what seems like an insurmountable battle may actually be treated with great success. If you feel anxious or depressed, don’t let it overwhelm you. 
Instead, start with the most important step of all: pick someone to start talking to about your feelings. When you are in the throes of mental health issues, it can be impossible  to make the small-but-necessary first steps in treating them. But once you commit to starting, it’s amazing how much better you’ll feel.

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Learn to love yourself

The title says it all really, all I have seen lately is people beating themselves up whether they are too thin, too fat, too tall…the list is endless, but when did it become okay for us to beat ourselves up this way? Essentially, we’re torturing ourselves whenever we look in the mirror.

You could say that since becoming a single mum I have been doing a bit of soul searching and a bit of self discovery and gradually I am coming to love the things I used to hate. You see I am a rather tall being 5ft 9 and a size 14 with a bit of a bum on me, and I always used to harshly criticise myself for this but lately I’ve learnt to love my curves and my height, after all they’re what make me, me. Besides, what kind of image am I setting for my son if all he ever hears and sees me doing is loathing myself?

I also have Excoriation Disorder which does mean my back, shoulders, chest and legs are covered in scars and skin blemishes which I still struggle to accept but i’m sure as time goes on i’ll come to accept them.

This might all seem a bit “Pie in the Sky”, especially for those battling with their own mental health, but I promise you, you are worth so much more than you think! Love what is quirky about you and what makes you stand out from others. In the space of a few months I’m wearing the type of things that once upon a time I never would of dreamed of wearing let alone leaving the house in it!

What I’m trying to say in all of this is: next time you’re stood in front of the mirror, just remember that for every flaw you find, there are possibly 5 qualities to counteract that flaw, and that flaw is what makes you, you! And one day your little girl or boy will come to you pointing out every flaw they can find with themselves and it’s our job as parents to help to show them a way to love themselves and be confident in life.

Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day

HG Awareness Day, also known as Hyperemesis Gravidarum Awareness Day, is being observed today! It has been observed annually on May 15th since 2012 to raise awareness of a dangerous and chronic condition that plagues many pregnant women.

Here is Mummykind’s H to G (well, more A-Z!) of Hyperemesis Gravidarum for HG awareness day! 

H Hospitalisation – In more severe cases of HG, a woman may require hospitalisation. Treatment for this may include tube feeding and intravenous fluids to restore lost nutrients and hydration to both mother and baby.
Y– You. As an individual you know the limit that you can get to before needing help- bare in mind that with another little life thrown into the mix, you may need to seek help more quickly than you would do if you only had yourself to look after. A good rule to stick to, is if you’d need a doctor for a condition if you weren’t pregnant, you definitely need one if you’re are pregnant. Self care is important, look after yourself!
P– Peppermint – Interestingly peppermint tea can be used to combat nausea and often can alleviate sickness symptoms, even if only for a short while. However using mint toothpaste is one of the biggest triggers for nausea in pregnant women!
E– Everybody – HG does not discriminate , an body can fall victim to Hyperemesis and it’s debilitating symptoms.
R– Royalty – Kate Middleton, the Duchess or Cambridge has suffered with HG and Severe morning sickness with all three of her pregnancies. Although I hate to think about how unwell she must have felt and how hard it must be to suffer HG in the public eye- I’m very grateful for the awareness she has raised for this debilitating condition!
E- Emotions – Hyperemesis gravidarum can make sufferers unable to do even the most basic of tasks, simply going to work can be impossible for some women. This makes many sufferers feel depressed and unhappy. These feelings could develop into postnatal depression, so it’s a good idea to seek support with a counsellor or see a doctor for anti-depressants.
M– Morning Sickness – 80% of all women experience morning sickness in the first 3 months of their pregnancies. only 2% of pregnancies are affected by Hyperemesis Gravidarum.
E-  Empathy – If someone in your life is experiencing HG try hard to be empathetic. Offer to help when and if you can. I faced so much stigma when I had HG because people around me just didn’t understand. The last thing a lady suffering from HG wants to hear is “well, I had morning sickness and I was fine.”… HG and morning sickness are worlds apart!!!

S- Sickness – About 45% of pregnant women suffer from nausea with vomiting while an additional 25% suffer with nausea only.
I- Impact – Thankfully there are no known links between HG and adverse effects for the foetus.
S – Safe – There is a significant decreased risk in fetal loss among women with HG versus women who do not vomit during pregnancy.
G- Go Galllll! – Hyperemesis is debilitating, if you’ve had HG and you’re here to tell the tale (or been brave enough to go on and have another baby!)- give yourself a massive pat on the back. You’re so much stronger than you know!
R- Rest – Bed rest is commonly prescribed to women with the HG and can be vital in helping to regain strength.
A- Amy – Mummykind’s own Amy and Harriet have experienced HG first hand.
V- Vomiting – Lightheadedness, nausea, fatigue, exhaustion, dehydration, vomiting and fainting are the most common symptoms and characteristics of HG.
I- IV – In severe cases of HG intravenous fluids have to be administered under inpatient conditions to keep ladies and their unborn babies hydrated.
D- Differences – Those with morning sickness suffer from nausea, but may not always experience vomiting. Usually, the condition lasts during the first trimester, yet some women experience it beyond the initial 12 weeks of pregnancy. Women who do vomit are unlikely to become dehydrated. In contrast, HG results in severe vomiting and, for some women, constant nausea. The condition can last for the entirety of pregnancy and can lead to extreme dehydration. It can also result in the loss of 5 percent or more of a woman’s pre-pregnancy weight and aversions to certain foods.
A- All associated symptoms – A full list of symptoms consists of… dehydration, malnutrition
weight loss, slowed metabolism, increased heart rate,
bloodshot eyes,
stress and depression,
heartburn, reflux, stomach ulcers, constipation, ketosis,
deep vein thrombosis,
hallucinations,
low birth weight in the baby and premature birth.

R- Re occurrence – Around 80% of women who experience HG in their first pregnancy will go o
n to experience it in their next.

U- Untreated – Fortunately, unborn babies won’t be affected unless the nausea and vomiting goes untreated for an extremely long time period. The majority of babies will get the nutrients they need from the reserves stored in their mother’s body at the mother’s expense – this means her teeth and bones can become brittle, and her hair and skin can become dry and dull.
M- Motion Sickness – Traditional Motion / Travel Sickness remedies can often be beneficial to women suffering from HG. Peppermint and ginger teas. Ginger products like sweets, gum or biscuits and even anti travel sickness wrist bands have been used by women to ease HG symptoms.