Sleep training and sleep school for babies is big business, and if you are a new mum, chances are that someone in your mother's group has already tried it.
There are different methods of sleep training, however, a new study has shown that genetics, not sleep training or the way a mom or dad parents their child, plays a large role in how babies sleep through the night.
The new research, reported in the June issue of Pediatrics, assessed the nighttime and daytime sleep habits of 995 sets of twins at 6, 18, 30, and 48 months of age. The researchers found that it didn’t matter if parents used the cry-it-out method, co-sleeping or another sleep method if their child was genetically hard-wired to wake frequently through the night. In other words, ignoring such a baby (as instructed by the cry-it-out method) won’t help change your baby’s habits, and it would be more beneficial long-term to give them comfort.
Genetics were seemingly responsible for the sleep habits of roughly half of the babies in the survey. 47% of 6 month-old babies, 58% of 30 month-old babies and 54% of 48 month-old tots showed no change in their nighttime sleep patterns regardless of what their parents did or didn't do.
Parents, don't despair. The study also showed that daytime sleep is more strongly affected by environmental issues than genetics. Longer baby daytime naps can be achieved with a quiet, dark, uninterrupted sleep space.
Also, at the 18 month mark, many babies suddenly became more affected by sleep environments instead of genetics. This means that the 18 month mark may be a good time to intervene and try to instill new sleep habits in little ones who still don’t sleep through the night.
Here is a wonderful video showing what happens from conception to birth. Don't worry, it's all computer animation and no babies were harmed in the process. What is interesting for an osteopath is notice how early all the important structures are formed (within the first 12 weeks) and we are mostly just getting larger after that. Also, look at how the baby has to twist one way and reverse to get out at birth. This may result in birth strains, especially if the labour is a long one. If you are interested in the journey from conception to birth, look out for this really good 3 part documentary Countdown to Life available on ABC iView.
Katy was planning a natural delivery but when an ultrasound suggested her baby could weigh up to 5.2kg, her doctors advised her to have a cesarean section. At the birth of her son Sam, everyone was surprised, he clocked just 3.2kg on the scales, Her doctors were so surprised that they weighed him twice to make sure it was no mistake.
Katy, now 37, told The New York Times she now sees the surgery as unnecessary and claims it caused Sam to have breathing troubles at birth, a complication more common in c-section babies. Katy is not alone. Research has shown that only 1 in 5 US women who were told that their babies might be getting quite large actually delivered infants weighing more than 4kg (the medical definition of a large baby).
However, mothers who believed they were having a large baby were 5 times more likely to ask for a cesarean. They were also twice as likely to have other interventions like a medical induction.
Telling mothers their baby will be large "has a profound effect, and contributes to undermining women's confidence they can deliver the baby," said Dr Eugene Declercq, one of the authors of the paper, published in Maternal and Child Health Journal last month. In both the US and Australia, nearly 1 in 3 babies are born by c-section.
The 2014 guidelines from the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists urge caution in the use of ultrasounds to estimate fetal weight, as scans can be imprecise during the 3rd trimester. Dr Aaron Caughey, who helped develop the guidelines, said he has seen many doctors offer a c-section even when the estimated birth weight is under 4 kg.
While it is important for doctors to share information with their patients, Dr Caughey says the mere act of offering a c-section influences women's decisions. "If you are offering something that isn't normally provided, you are somehow saying that this is a pretty good option," he said.
There are real dangers in natural or vaginal births if the baby is large. There is a risk of the head emerging but the shoulders getting stuck, and this can result in nerve damage to the baby's arms. However, c-sections are also associated with increased risks, longer recovery time for the mother and can limit her future childbirth options.
If you want to find out more, childbirth connection has a wide range of topics concerning birth, or you can speak to a doula or go to some really awesome birth classes (online or in person).
Warning: This post contains illustrations of breast-feeding.
Most new parents have no idea what tongue-tie is. Known as ankyloglossia, it is where the tongue has an extra bit of skin and is unable to touch the roof of the mouth during rest or swallowing. It occurs in 5 % of the population, is more common in males than females, and can run in families.
There are degrees of severity, so some babies are able to attach to the breast and suck well despite a tongue-tie . However, many will have breastfeeding problems (sometimes from birth, sometimes from 2 or 3 weeks) due to poor latch. Here are some of the signs:
In a baby with tongue-tie (right), the tongue is anchored down by the extra skin and can't form a tight seal against the nipple. It also can't perform the smooth, circular action to extract breast milk.
It may contribute to an abnormal tongue-resting posture (low and forward), and an abnormal swallowing pattern (tongue thrust). The entire body will then begin to accommodate to this incorrect tongue-resting posture, contributing to changes in the growth of the face, forward head posture, mouth breathing and sleep apnoea.
If untreated as a baby, it can go on to alter speech. Affected adults and children will often try to speak with a small mouth opening, slowly or softly so that they can pronounce specific consonants.
According to the Australian Breastfeeding Association, your baby may have a tongue-tie if:
As osteopaths, we can identify any neck or facial asymmetry in babies, treat any symptoms of colic or gastrointestinal discomfort and recommend a referral to a lactation consultant if we suspect a tongue-tie.
Once diagnosed, the tongue-tie is snipped without anaesthetic in a quick procedure. Breastfeeding may improve immediately or it may take 2 weeks for the baby to relearn feeding technique.
Every so often, we'll hear of someone's child having grommets put in, to prevent recurrent ear infections. According to Medicalobserver.com.au, there is a new technique available to GPs that would avoid surgery.
The intervention is called autoinflation, and it involves using a nasal balloon, says Professor Chris Del Mar from Bond University, UK.
The first large randomised controlled trial involved 320 children, with recent history of otitis media and effusion, and confirmed fluid in one or both ears, from 43 family practices in the UK.
Children receiving autoinflation 3 times a day for 1–3 months were more likely than those in a control group receiving usual care to have normal middle-ear pressure, measured by tympanogram, at both one month (47.3% vs 35.6%) and three months (49.6% vs 38.3%) and to have fewer days with symptoms,
including common colds and earaches
“We have found use of autoinflation in young, school-aged children with otitis media with effusion to be feasible, safe and effective in clearing effusions, and in improving important ear symptoms, concerns and related quality of life over a three-month watch-and-wait period,” the authors write.
Professor Del Mar says there are few effective treatments in primary care. Antibiotics have been shown in a Cochrane systematic review to be ineffective, and surgically inserted grommets have no benefit beyond six months and have no effect on speech and language development.
From an osteopathic perspective, children between the ages of 2 to 4 are most likely to develop otitis media due to the angle of the ear canal. In adults, it is at a slight incline and so helps with drainage. In young children, the ear canal is more horizontal so fluid can get caught in the ears more easily. Osteopaths who have experience treating such conditions will use gentle cranial/biodynamic techniques to improve the circulation and drainage through the head naturally.
Read more about glue ear at the ABC Health & Wellbeing site.
All entries complied by osteopath Dr Wei Chua unless otherwise stated.