newborn baby in neonatal

Ernie’s Story #LittleHero

I was so ready for the birth of my baby, I had planned to try and feed him, I had planned to hold him straight away and my husband had planned to cut the cord! The reality of the situation was really quite different! When my baby was pulled out of me, they declared, he’s a boy. We had already told the midwife right next to me that if it was a boy, we would be calling him Ernie. I remember so clearly she said ‘it’s Ernie’ but quite suddenly her happy demeanour changed and 8 people were crowded around my baby on the resuscitation table. I remember concerned faces, and a midwife who was trying to be calm but I knew that something was wrong!

I had had the perfect pregnancy, so perfect that I had wanted to have a home birth. I had planned everything down to the scented candle and the music, but as the labour progressed (32 hours later) I was transferred to hospital and laboured for 4 further hours before going for an emergency c-section. I wasn’t panicked by an emergency c-section as my sister had had two and I thought it was quite normal. But after the birth, when I was faced with calm faces but panicked voices I started to worry! I looked at Ernie and his lips were blue, he wasn’t breathing properly and they were worried about him. I wouldn’t be able to hold him, or feed him and he was whipped away to the Neonatal unit and I was wheeled to recovery completely empty handed.

newborn baby with tubes in neonatal

Me and my husband sat there in stark silence. This was not what we had planned at all! We didn’t even know when we would see our baby, and it wasn’t until two hours later that my husband did in fact meet our newborn baby, and he said he just cried and cried. I was so desperate to feed him and I was so determined to get up to Neonatal to see him that just 6 hours post caesarean I got out of my bed and walked to the unit. But they had already fed him formula! It seems silly now as obviously you just have to do what is best for your baby and it has to be fed in whichever way is best, but I was heartbroken. I returned to the ward for the night feeling like I didn’t have a baby at all!

One of the worst things was being on a ward surrounded by other babies and mums when you didn’t have yours. On day 2 of being in the hospital I cried to a nurse and she kindly moved me to a private room. I was spending a lot of my time up at the Neonatal until but it was good to have my own space when I wasn’t! I remember so clearly the bounty lady bounding into my room saying ‘Congratulations! We are here to take a picture of you and your baby’. I was so upset when I didn’t even have my baby with me!!!

Another horrific time was at 3am in the morning when my lights suddenly went on, there was a doctor at the door, ‘Can I come in? Mrs Day?’ So I invited him in and he explained that Ernie needed a lumbar puncture and I needed to sign the form. It was going to happen immediately, so there was no time to wait! They informed me that he might have meningitis (which later turned out to be sepsis). I was beside myself, I couldn’t even ring my husband and I had nobody there to support. I remember that night vividly, as I spent the whole night from 3am in Neonatal. Even when the nurses said I needed to leave, I didn’t and I think they picked up that I wasn’t going to leave, as they handed me a pillow and a blanket.

After three long days of having no baby with me, I arrived back to my room after having a shower and there he was, being wheeled into my room!

newborn baby with nose tube

I was ecstatic, it was the best thing ever!!! His breathing had stabilised, and he was recovering from sepsis! I know parents have to stay in Neonatal for much longer, and I know that my story has such a happy ending but it was scary, it was sad. We had regular hospital appointments after Ernie was discharged from hospital and we celebrated his amazing recovery and haven’t really stopped celebrating him ever since!

newborn baby

Ernie is now a cheeky three year old boy who loves learning, singing and dancing! Every year when I look back on his newborn pictures I am amazed at what he has grown into from that poorly little baby who was whipped away from me! I always try to see the positive in every situation and think Ernie has such resilience and is up for any challenge because of the way his life started out and it has made him into the boy he is.

baby and mum smiling

Written by Charlie Day from Sounds Right Phonics

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baby given vaccination

Should you give medicine to your baby prior to vaccination?

Sheena, a mum pharmacist explains about baby vaccinations and medication.

Vaccination time is one which causes stress and unease amongst parents and babies alike! As parents we want to do our best to alleviate our children’s discomfort or pain and often question what the best way to do this is. Giving medicines to babies prior to vaccination often comes up as a suggestion. I wanted to take the chance to explain when this is appropriate and when it is not.

Obviously, we all want to ease the pain of our little ones but over-medicating can be more harmful than the scratch of a vaccination needle. There are times when it’s a good idea – and times when cuddles will do just as much good! Hopefully I can explain the difference here!

  • In the UK, like in Ireland, we vaccinate our babies against Men B. When this vaccine is given at 2 and 4 months of age your baby SHOULD be given paracetamol to prevent a high fever developing. The first dose (60mg = 2.5mls infant suspension) should be given at the time of vaccination and the second dose 4-6 hours after the first, and the final dose should be given 4-6 hours after the second. That is a total of three doses. The Men B vaccine is more likely that other vaccinations to cause a high fever and that is why this rule applies exclusively to it.
  • Ibuprofen SHOULD NOT be given before vaccines as a preventative measure of fever.
  • Men B is the only vaccine that has the requirement to treat with paracetamol in a preventative manner as described above – so medicine should not be given routinely at other vaccination appointments.

So, to sum it up, Paracetamol is recommended (please read the article about the safest way to administer medicine to babies) with the Men B vaccinations but other than that medicines should not be given to prevent fever or discomfort in babies prior to vaccination. The exception of this rule of course is if your baby does develop a fever over 39 degrees Celsius or is in pain or very irritable post vaccination. In this case either Paracetamol or Ibuprofen (please read the article about using Calpol and Nurofen together) can be used as per the product literature – always read the label to confirm the dose before giving medication as our babies grow up so quickly and dosage quantities vary with age and between products so a fresh eye on each administration can reduce errors and keep your baby safe and appropriately dosed.

If you have any questions I’m always happy to help. Contact me on my contact page on www.wonderbaba.ie or through private messaging on the WonderBaba Facebook page.

 

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Top tips for treating your baby’s cold

Sheena, a mum pharmacist shares her top tips.

Colds are viral illnesses which can cause sneezing, coughing, congestion, runny noses, sore throats, watery eyes and even a high temperature.
At this time of year children seem to only be recovering from one cold when another one lands! It can be exhausting and draining for everyone in the family! Hopefully I’ll be able to give you some tips which will help treat your child’s cold and have everyone sleeping better as quickly as possible!
The first and most important thing to remember is that colds are self-limiting. This means that all you need to do is ease your child’s symptoms and the illness will pass within approximately 7-10 days. Generally a doctor visit is not needed.

  • Congestion – The use of a nasal spray or drops can be so helpful! If your baby is young, I would recommend using it fifteen minutes before a breast or bottle feed. This allows them to feed well without struggling with blocked airways.

nose drops given to baby

  • A humidifier – which adds steam to the air, can really help to prevent the airways drying out overnight which really help your child sleep through.
  • Coughs – Actually a humidifier is very useful to ease coughs in children as well as congestion. It helps to prevent the airways drying out and also helps to loosen mucus. Many cough bottles are not suitable for children under one due to their honey content. If your child’s cough becomes wheezy or they begin shallow rapid breathing please seek medical advice.
  • A high fever should be treated with Paracetamol or Ibuprofen as appropriate (please read the article about using Calpol and Nurofen together as well as the safest way to administer medicine to babies). If you suspect your child’s symptoms are more than just a cold it is worth contacting your doctor. A persistent high fever which does not come down with medication is unlikely to result from a common cold.

baby with fever

  • Sore throats can be treated with Paracetamol and Ibuprofen also. It is worth offering your child food one hour after they have ad their medication as this is when they are least likely to be sore and to refuse a meal of feed. Honey, lemon and warm water can be a great ‘tea’ for children over one year of age. The honey helps to coat their throats and soothe pain whilst the lemon helps to thin out thick mucus and reduce irritation from a post nasal drip!
  • Hydration – It is essential to make sure your child is taking enough fluids to prevent dehydration. Keep an eye on how much they are drinking and how often they are going to the toilet or having wet nappies. If you are concerned about dehydration at all please seek medical attention. Symptoms of drowsiness include lethargy, drowsiness, and tearless crying.

baby having nappy changed

  • Rehydration salts which are available in the Pharmacy are a great, easy way to maintain hydration. Nicer still ice pops also do a fantastic job!!
  • Keep a scarf around your child’s neck and mouth when going out in cold weather as this helps to prevent respiratory irritation in very cold weather!
  • Keep an eye on your child’s actions – if they are tugging or pulling at their ears more than normal they may have an ear infection which can commonly present like a common cold. It’s worth bringing them to your GP to have their ears and throat checked!

I hope you have found these tips helpful and remember if you are any way concerned that your child’s symptoms are more than a common cold bring them to see their doctor to rule out other types of illness.

If you have any questions I’m always happy to help. Contact me on my contact page on Wonderbaba or through private messaging on the WonderBaba Facebook page.

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mum with sick children

Why finding some ‘me time’ is important, even when your child is unwell.

Your family wellness starts with you.

We all know how stressful it can be when our children are sick. In those moments all our focus and energy go to provide comfort and care for the sick child. However, it is also not uncommon for mums to put others’ needs before their own, even when the whole family is well and healthy. Mums tend to spend all their time looking after everyone else and end up with no time for them. The longing for some ‘me time’ makes them feel guilty, so they ignore it. In the long term, this lifestyle is not sustainable and will cause burnout.

Think how often you feel:

  • Irritated with the little things
  • Overwhelmed
  • Out of control
  • Resentful

Do you quickly lose patience, have low energy and constantly feel exhausted?

overwhelmed mum

The worry and stress of having a sick baby combined with the lack of sleep can often make you feel this way. Even when your children are well, most mums experience the above feelings at some point in their motherhood. It’s perfectly normal. But if it happens often, it can have a negative effect on you and your family. It’s crucial that you take care of yourself. You need to be well, so that you can look after your family. Your wellbeing is vital to your family’s wellbeing.

Wellbeing and ‘me time’

Regular ‘me time’ is an important part of our wellbeing. The best way to ensure it does happen is to put it in your calendar. There are 24 hours in a day or as I like to look at it 72 blocks of 20 minutes. Check your diary, see what you’ve got on and find pockets of time just for yourself, even if it’s only 5-20 minutes. The trick is to stick to it and more importantly don’t use this time to check your emails, clean up the house or fold the laundry. Instead, go for a walk, read a book, go out with a friend. Do something that you used to love doing before starting a family, or use this time to simply breathe, reflect and clear your mind. It may seem a bit stressful not to be by your baby’s side when they are unwell or leave things unfinished, but even a short break will give you more energy and have a positive effect on how you feel.

Mum relaxing

7 x benefits of ‘me’ time

  1. More in control of your emotions
  2. Less irritable
  3. Clear mind and better decisions
  4. More productive
  5. Improved sleep and less fatigue
  6. Lower stress levels
  7. In general, becoming a better mum and partner

As mums, we tend to think that having ‘me time’ is selfish, especially when we have an unwell baby in the house. Consequently, we feel guilty about it. What we don’t realise is that our ‘me time’ can benefit others too. Take time every day to, reset and recharge and by doing this, you will create more patience, calmness and positive attitude. You will feel more balanced and energised to look after your unwell child.

So, are you ready to take charge of your own wellbeing? Start by completing a Wellbeing Assessment and booking a FREE follow up consultation.

My name is Alicja, I’m a mum of two children and a Lifestyle, Food and Wellness Coach as well as Gallup Certified Strengths Coach. I created Time For Mum (www.timeformum.com) because I’m passionate about supporting mums in the most challenging and important job they’ll ever do, being a mum.

happy mum and daughter

 

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calpol and infant nurofen bottles

Can I give Calpol and Nurofen to my baby at the same time?

Sheena, a mum pharmacist explains if Calpol and Nurofen can be given together.

Calpol is a commonly known brand of children’s Paracetamol, whilst Nurofen contains a different drug altogether, which is called Ibuprofen. I frequently get asked the question: “Can I give both of these medications to my baby at the same time?” The answer, like most things, is a little complicated, so hopefully I can make it a little bit clearer for you here!

Paracetamol (Calpol) works to reduce pain and fever in your child. It can be used for things like headache, teething pain, toothache, earache, sore throats, colds and flu, aches, pains and fever post vaccination.

Ibuprofen (Nurofen) is a pain killer and anti-inflammatory which also reduces pain and fever and is useful for the same types of illness or discomforts as Paracetamol but can also be useful for minor aches and sprains.

Unfortunately, most parents or caregivers come across these types of ailments at some stage or another when caring for a young child or baby and are faced with the question of which medication is best. Conflicting advice lays all over the internet about whether one medication should be chosen over another and if, in the case of a severe fever, both can be given at the same time. Recent guidelines published, both reassured parents and caused concern, due to the way in which they were translated by the media.

As a Pharmacist and mum myself, my ethos, which is in line with my code of conduct as a healthcare professional, is to give the lowest dose of medication necessary for the minimum required time. That is underpinned by our standard, that the correct medication is given to the correct patient, at the correct time and in the most appropriate form. No child needs to suffer unnecessary pain or distress and in the case of fever, or illness, it can actually be detrimental to under-dose your child.

So, what’s the best approach?

I recommend administering Paracetamol to your child if they have any of the conditions listed above and are feeling distressed. Always read the leaflet to ensure you are giving the recommended dosage based on your child’s age. If after an hour, your child’s symptoms have not been alleviated, then you can administer the appropriate dose of Ibuprofen.

unwell baby

I always start with Paracetamol as it is easier on the tummy. However, it is worth noting that Paracetamol works for 4-6 hours and can only be given a maximum of four times in 24 hours, whereas Ibuprofen works for 6-8 hours and can only be given for a maximum of three doses in 24 hours. You may choose to go with Ibuprofen rather than Paracetamol if you are administering medication when you are going to bed. It will last for longer and improve everyone’s chances of having a good night’s sleep!!! The main message is that you should not routinely administer both medicines at the same time – you should administer one and see what your baby’s response is, as they may not need the second medication. Obviously, after an hour, if you are unhappy with the response and feel they need additional medication, then it is perfectly safe to administer the second product, whilst sticking to the recommended dosage regimens!

I hope this helps to clarify the confusing topic of ‘over the counter’ medications for children. Please note that there are many products on the market with different names, which contain either Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. You have to be mindful that you do not administer two of the same medication, as this would lead to overdose.

If you have any questions I’m always happy to help over on my contact page on www.wonderbaba.ie or through private messaging on the WonderBaba Facebook page.

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newborn in hospital

Elsie’s Story #LittleHero

Elsie Rose was born at 11.22 am on the 24th October 2014. She was small- although not as small as the doctors had feared- and she was beautiful. Our much wanted and much loved fourth baby was perfect. Ten fingers, ten toes. Perfect. She was weighed, she was wrapped and she was placed into my arms for a cuddle I’d barely dared to hope would happen.

My fourth and final pregnancy was never supposed to be a smooth ride. I was 37, I was ‘high risk’ thanks to three previous caesarean births (two of which had been emergencies) and I had a history of producing small babies that meant regular growth scans were booked in as a matter of urgency. But we got through it all. We attended weekly, then twice-weekly growth and doppler scans. We changed our birth plans, we prepared for an early delivery and we came to terms with a possible stay in special care. We knew that this baby was going to put us through it all in the lead up to her birth, but we also knew we’d get through it somehow. And we did. She did.

The doctors were never really able to explain things to us very well. Elsie was classed as IUGR- Intrauterine Growth Restriction- but we didn’t really know why, and we were told to expect delivery at 34 weeks. We actually made it to 37 weeks, despite several episodes of reduced movements, another emergency caesarean scare, many scans and many, many more sleepless nights.

Newborn baby

The steroids they gave me strengthened her lungs, gave her an extra chance at survival. The hats, cardigans and blankets they found kept her out of special care and the determination she still shows today brought us home so much more quickly than anyone ever expected. And despite feeling rushed, despite the shock of her finally being here, in my arms, despite her tiny yet surprisingly ‘robust’ size, the relief at having her home was amazing. Yet daunting. Frightening. So very, very frightening.

We were discharged before Elsie had managed a feed, sent on our way with a confident ‘this is baby number four, you know what you’re doing!’ We spent our first night downstairs, together in the darkness and I simply watched her, terrified to be alone with her yet not wanting her out of my sight for a moment.

By the morning I was distraught at how little she’d fed and I knew something was wrong. Instead of thriving beside me, she was unable to open her eyes and unable to cry. I didn’t know what I was doing after all.

By day three Elsie had lost too much weight on her already tiny frame and the doctors at the hospital gave us 48 hours to turn it around before she would be admitted for tube feeding. They were concerned that her fontanelle was sunken and her lips were dry. Her skin took on a grey tone and her body was limp… she was literally fading before our eyes.

We were told to syringe feed her every hour- and amazingly we avoided being re-admitted. She was starting to respond, starting to open her eyes a little. On day seven, she cried. She cried! Her beautiful cry punched the air and reminded us she was here. She was here, and she was fighting, at last.

Newborn in the bath

Over the following weeks we continued to struggle during every single feed. Elsie would feed for a few seconds, then fall off the breast over and over again. She would squirm and cry and pull her legs up, her face distorted in frustration and pain. Her shoulders were constantly hunched up around her ears and she was stiff, tense and untrusting. She was eventually diagnosed with a severe tongue tie which was rectified at 10 weeks old, and finally we were able to work on establishing breastfeeding.

Some weeks later, Elsie was further diagnosed with severe reflux and a probable cow’s milk protein allergy. Our specialist told us that she was also struggling to breathe properly and we were given an inhaler plus other medication to help her airways. We were also told her oesophagus was literally being burnt due to the reflux, given yet more medication, and told that she may need exploratory surgery somewhere down the line… It all seemed so much for such a tiny girl.

Yet through it all, Elsie was growing. Aged 4 months she rolled over for the first time. At 7 months, she learnt to sit up. By 13 months she was taking her first steps.

Smiling Toddler

She was Elsie Rose. Strong- so strong- determined and brave. She dealt with it all- the pain, the discomfort, the medication- with such a strong and steely determination, and if you met her today you’d never, ever guess she’d had such a rocky beginning. From that tiny, tiny, little baby with the grey skin and the always-closed eyes… to the fun loving, cheeky little lady she is today. She’s feisty. She’s a fighter. No longer the smallest, no longer the most frail and always the biggest inspiration to us all.

Little hero girl

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baby given medicine with baby syringe

How to administer medicine to your baby safely?

As the first-time mum, I wasn’t aware that the safest way to dispense the medicine was to aim it to the side of the mouth. I found out about it while looking for tips on how to safely give medicine to your baby, when my son refused to take it. I quickly learnt how scary it can be, if the baby suddenly moves and the medicine accidentally shoots straight down the throat and ends up in baby’s windpipe. Luckily, my son always got his breath back quickly but these short moments, when he was trying to catch his breath, were terrifying. The more I spoke to other mums about it, the more similar stories I have heard. This is why, I asked Sheena, a mum pharmacist, to explain why administering the medicine to the side is so important. Here is what she said, together with the best practices on how to dispense medicine to babies.

A mum pharmacist explains the importance of aiming to the side when administering medicine to your baby

Every parent is likely to come across a time where they have to give their baby medicines. It’s a scenario nobody wants of course but our babies and toddlers like to keep us on our toes!

Poorly baby at the doctors

There is every hope it could be for something as simple as giving a multivitamin syrup, but it can extend to administering medicines for pain relief, a high temperature, vaccination protocol and even infection control. Whatever the reason it can be a daunting task which leaves you wondering how best to approach it safely and also in a way that will cause minimum distress to your baby.

Let’s start by discussing how to give your baby medicine and then by exploring why side administration of oral liquid medicines is so important.

How to give liquid medicines to a baby

To administer oral liquid medication such as liquid paracetamol (e.g. Calpol) or ibuprofen (e.g. Nurofen) try the following technique:

Woman checking liquid medicine dosing instructions

  • Read the bottle’s packaging fully and ensure the medication you are administering is the correct product, the correct strength for your baby, in the correct amount and at the recommended time intervals. Never give medication unless you are sure of what you are doing and if in any doubt contact your local pharmacist, or another healthcare practitioner. If you accidentally give too much medication to your child contact the National Poisons Information Centre or contact your doctor or emergency out of hours services as soon as you can.
  • Wash your hands in hot and soapy water. Measure the recommended dose using a baby oral syringe or baby medicine dispenser. Get a double check of this if you have someone nearby – It’s always good to be careful – especially when we are all so tired with young children! I’m sure your other half will be delighted to be woken at 4am to cross check ?

How to use an oral syringe according to the NHS:

Baby syringe

  • Wash your hands.
  • Make sure your child is sitting upright.
  • Shake the medicine bottle unless stated otherwise on the label.
  • Remove the top from the bottle and insert the bottle adapter if necessary.
  • Insert the tip of the oral syringe into the bottle adapter.
  • Turn the bottle upside down and pull the plunger until the medicine reaches the right dose.
  • Gently remove the tip of the oral syringe from the bottle adapter.
  • Put the top back on the bottle.
  • Put the tip of the oral syringe inside your child’s mouth.
  • Gently push the plunger to squirt small amounts of medicine into the side of your child’s mouth.
  • Allow your child to swallow before continuing to push the plunger.
  • Give your child a drink to wash down the medicine.
  • When you have given the whole dose, wash the syringe in warm, soapy water unless directed otherwise on the label.

The importance of side administration

Now that we have discussed the correct protocol using best practice and the NHS guidelines, I just want to take the chance to highlight the importance of the side administration of medicine to your baby. This basically means that you are directing the medicine towards the back of the cheek in your baby’s mouth in small amounts. If you give large volumes of medicine or give it to the centre or front of the mouth it can cause problems for a few reasons.

First of all, the gag reflex could be triggered which would not be pleasant for your baby. This can also result in a loss of some of or all of the dose you are trying to administer. Secondly, if medicine is squeezed towards the front or middle of their mouth, then they are a lot more likely to spit it out or for it to dribble out of their mouths resulting in an inadequate or lost dose.

A baby has an extrusion reflex which is also known as the ‘tongue thrust reflex’ and this is a protective mechanism which helps to prevent them from choking. If you administer small amounts of the medicine to the side of the mouth near the cheek, you are bypassing this reflex which greatly increases the success rate! Any loss of medicine can result in a reduced dose but as you cannot measure what has been lost, due to spitting etc., it is not safe to give more medicine until the next regular dose is due. Giving an extra couple of mls could result in over-dosage.

Baby medicine dispensed with the baby syringe

Scarily choking is also a risk when giving your baby food or liquids. By using a side of the cheek administration technique, you are allowing your baby’s swallow reflux to cope with the small volumes of liquid you are giving them.  For the same reason, it is important to ensure your child is upright during feeding or medicine administration and never in a lying down position.

If you have any questions I’m always happy to help. Contact me on my contact page on www.wonderbaba.ie or through private messaging on the WonderBaba Facebook page.

So you never miss helpful articles like this, please follow Medapti on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Sign Up to our Newsletter. Also, watch our video to learn how Medapti can help you dispense the medicine more easily and gently.