October 12, 2017Parenting Resources No Comments

Infant CPR: an essential ingredient in McMoyler Method Parent Prep

 

While it always makes my heart happy  to hear from past graduates of Parent Prep, this letter gave me the goosebumps (and not the good kind!), so I knew I had to share.  This is such a great reminder of why learning the basics of CPR is crucial for anyone that cares for a child on a regular basis. 

“On Saturday morning at about 9am, after breakfast our son was outside with our cat. Stacy and I were watching the news in bed and didn’t hear him for about a minute. Somehow he got through the safety gate and I found him floating face down in out pool in his pajamas. He was blue, wasn’t breathing, and no response. (Paramedics estimate he was probably in the water 45 sec to 1 min.) I jumped in, immediately started CPR. I got him to cough right away and throw up some water and food. I did this three more times when he finally started crying. While I was giving CPR, Stacy was talking to 911. While waiting for the paramedics and police to arrive, we took off his wet pjs, covered him in a warm blanket and started talking to him — he was crying and still  unresponsive due to still being very traumatized. We took him to the ER and spent all day Saturday and Sunday in the hospital making sure he was completely recovered. We came home Sunday afternoon and thanks to God, he is okay and back to being his busy, active, normal self with no health complication. Needles to say my wife and I have never been so scared, distraught and thankful in our lives.

The reason I am contacting you is to “thank you” for your class and giving us the skills/knowledge of what to do in case of an emergency.”

At Kinspace, we are super lucky to partner with Chris Schlesinger and his team from In Home CPR.  Chris provides on-demand, on-site safety classes throughout the San Francisco Bay Area —

you choose the time and place of your class, and they will bring the classroom to you! 

Whether you need a certification class, or his signature CPR essentials class for new parents and caregivers, they have you covered. Chris is an instructor for the American Heart Association and American Red Cross and has taught several thousand people CPR, BLS, AED, Standard First Aid and Pediatric First Aid.  He is also a former EMT (Emergency Medical Technician) and has worked in home healthcare.  Chris brings his wealth of professional experience and also his accessible and interactive style of  teaching.  

I’m sharing this with you because this is important stuff, like maybe THE most important, and I want you to have a go-to resource.  So, whether your are a graduate of parent prep and want to refresh your CPR skills now that baby is on the scene, or would like a more in depth CPR training course, InHome CPR has got you covered. 

xoSusan

Bringing Home Baby To Your Dog’s Home: Tips From An Expert

July 5, 2017Books, Parenting Resources No Comments

Bringing Home Baby To Your Dog's Home: Tips From An Expert

 

Expecting a baby, and have a dog?

Read on to learn the ins and outs of cultivating a happy and safe relationship between your dog and baby from dog training expert, Michael Wombacher.

Good Dog, Happy Baby
Preparing your dog for the arrival of your child 
By Michael Wombacher

In the last thirty or so years two demographic changes have intersected to create a new set of challenges for dogs and their owners. First, dog ownership has sky rocketed and the industry supporting what has become a national obsession has exploded in tandem. Simultaneously, young couples en masse are, for a variety of reasons, choosing to delay parenthood minimally into their late twenties and very often into their mid and even late thirties. During this time they often acquire a dog that comes to inhabit a host of roles. Among them is that of surrogate child. All of which is well and good – for the time being. 

Understandably, with dogs serving as a kind of placeholder for the child to come, many couples pour all their parental tenderness into them. And in doing so loving owners often spoil them with very little thought given to how their surrogate child might take to the sudden arrival of a real child. And a real child can upset this entire arrangement.

Sadly, many people fail to consider how to prepare Fido for this turn of events. As a professional dog trainer, I’ve had many clients who dismissed my warnings about potential problems only to deeply regret it later.

Dog ownership in the United States is at an all-time high. About 55 million households contain one or more dogs, according to several national surveys. And 80% of dog owners say they consider their dog to be a part of the family rather than a mere pet. And yet, many of these canine relationships become troubled with changes in the family. This can lead to serious problems. 

I’ve seen many situations where doggie was the boss of the house one day and several months later, she was on her way to a shelter. The truth is that dogs that feel jilted or afraid can and do get aggressive in these kinds of situations. 

The statistics supporting this are staggering. On average there are 4.5 million reported dog bites every year in the United States. About 850,000 require hospital visits and about 35,000 require reconstructive surgery. And guess what? About 80% of these bites happen to children under 5 and of those about 80% are on the face and neck. And most disturbing of all, about 90% of these bites were inflicted by the family dog or a dog familiar to the child. The cumulative effect of all this is that by the age of 12 about 50% of American children have been bitten by a dog and many of those suffer from symptoms of PTSD because of it. It’s for all these reasons that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) have labeled dog bites on children a national epidemic second only to teen substance abuse when it comes to threatening the welfare of children. 

In short, if you believe that “my dog would never...” I would strongly urge you to reconsider your conclusion. In almost every case where I’m forced to counsel parents of young children to rehome their dogs this was the presumption they’d been operating under prior to aggressive incidents.

Fortunately in most cases these scenarios are easily preventable. 

Begin by asking yourself key questions: Does your dog like children? Is she afraid of loud, sudden noises? Does she bark incessantly? Does she suffer from separation anxiety? The answers to these questions can help you design a roadmap for preparing your dog for baby’s arrival. 

Key to all this is figuring out what changes you’re going to have to make in your dog’s life that your dog will be less than thrilled with as a consequence of adding a baby to your family and making those changes long before baby arrives. Failure to do so will almost ensure that your dog will associate such changes with your baby’s arrival. And this, in turn, could trigger an unhealthy competitive dynamic between them. 

Your roadmap to a smooth integration between dog and baby should include special consideration of three key thresholds in your baby’s life. 

In utero

You should plan for the arrival of your baby by implementing whatever structural changes you’ll have to make in the rhythm of your dog’s life long before the baby arrives. How long is long? It depends on your dog and how deeply embedded in your routine she is. But at a minimum changes should be implemented no later than a month to six weeks before your due date. And at a maximum, the moment you find out you’re pregnant. The key point is that your dog should not be able to associate these changes with baby’s arrival and begin nursing a grudge.

Look who’s grabbing

The second threshold rolls around when the baby approaches 8 months of age and begins crawling and grabbing. By this point the owner should have worked hard to condition their dog to the awkward grabbing and pulling at sensitive body parts that a baby will inevitably dish out (for more on this see my book Good Dog, Happy Baby and my related e-course). 

They should also have created a safe zone for their dog so it can retreat beyond the baby’s reach when stressed. Additionally, they should have taught their dog to distinguish child toys from dog toys. This is relatively easy to do. Begin by getting dog toys that are significantly different in appearance from baby toys. At the same time, dab a little Listerine on all baby toys and teach your dog that the scent of Listerine equals an “off” command. This will go a long way to helping your dog make the right choice. And most importantly ensure that dog and baby are never, ever left unattended together, even for a moment. 

Look who’s walking

The third threshold comes at around 14 months, when the baby starts walking. This shouldn’t present a major stumbling block if the owners have successfully crossed the first two thresholds. Rather, it will allow parents to begin focusing on structured, fun interactions between their child and dog, such as appropriate games, rudimentary pseudo-training and more (see related blog entry).

The point is that taking the time to prepare your dog for the arrival of your baby can pay off in spades in terms of a safe, wholesome and a mutually rewarding relationship for all involved. On the other hand, failing to spend a little bit of time preparing your dog for this significant addition to your family can have dire consequences. Which is why tragically so many new parents end up rehoming their beloved, often older dogs, within three to six months of a baby’s arrival. 

In a perfect world, dog owners have 16 months from the time they find out they’re pregnant to the day when their baby begins to crawl. That’s a lot of time to make sure their dog knows what to expect. So do yourself and your dog a favor by choosing the latter road to a harmonious and loving future for all.

For more information please feel free to visit my website, check out my Amazon best-selling book Good Dog, Happy Baby, take a look at my in-depth e-course modules and listen to my recently launched podcast.

Michael Wombacher is a professional dog trainer and author of Good Dog, Happy Baby. In his 21 years of training Michael has performed over 30,000 one on one behavior consultations ranging from the mundane to the bizarre. He has also written several books, been featured on major television and radio programs nationwide, and trained dogs for high profile celebrities in the entertainment, technology and financial worlds. Keep track of Mike’s work with dogs and babies by visiting his website at www.gooddoghappybaby.com. Join the Good Dog, Happy Baby community here and receive a free PDF exploring the 22 questions you should ask yourself if you’re bringing a baby into a household with a dog.

Taking the Drama Out of Discipline

May 21, 2017Books

When it come to parenting books, I am a huge fan of all things Dan Siegel. His mindfulness based approach is empathetic, relatable, and most of all super effective. His “Connect-and-Redirect” principle has changed the way I approach discipline in my own home with some pretty magical results. Take a peek at his latest book with Tina Payne Bryson.

xx
Susan


Taking the Drama Out of Discipline

No Drama Discipline
By Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.

"After Tina Payne Bryson and I wrote The Whole Brain Child a few years ago, we were struck at how the term 'discipline' was often used in our workshops by parents as a synonym for 'punishment.' And so we felt it was important in our next book to help clarify that the term discipline really means “to teach,” and that the recipient of our discipline is a student, not a prisoner."

"In No-Drama Discipline, Tina and I explore this issue head on, using the Connect-and-Redirect whole-brain principle as our centerpiece to invite parents and other caregivers to really reflect on the nature of discipline, teaching and relationships. The book’s primary message is that the most challenging moments that require our disciplinary action are the opportunities for deep teaching."

"Louis Pasteur once said, 'Chance favors the prepared mind.' One way of interpreting this phrase is that with knowledge and understanding, our minds can be prepared to optimize our response to the chance events that happen in life. In all of my writing or co-writing, I think of this phrase as a starting point. How can I help prepare the mind of a reader to optimize their experiences, to improve their inner understanding and interpersonal relationships? In the No-Drama approach, Tina and I have tried to use brain-basics to invite parents to prepare themselves for how communication shapes the development of the important integrative circuits of the brain at the heart of well-being, social and emotional intelligence and executive functions."

"In brain terms, a moment requiring discipline can emerge at any time, and the ones that involve limits and intense emotions can be the most challenging. As our brain has two fundamental modes — reactive or receptive— the key to a discipline interaction is to optimize the chance for learning by moving a child’s brain from reactive to receptive. Reactivity can take many forms such as the classic mild, moderate or intense states of fighting, fleeing, freezing or fainting. In such reactivity, learning will be limited. As Steven Porges suggests, we shut down our social engagement system when we are reactive."

"Connecting first with a child’s state of mind is the key to moving reactivity toward receptivity. I remember this myself with the acronym, PART; for the Presence, Attunement, Resonance and Trust that are the part we play in connecting with others. Presence is our own state of mind to be curious, open, accepting and loving (yes, that’s the COAL state of being mindfully present!). Attunement is how we focus attention on the internal state of another — not just on their outward behavior. Resonance is how we allow our own internal state to be shaped by what we sense and perceive in someone else — so it’s not really mirroring, but it’s resonating. When the other person recognizes and feels our resonance as it emerges from our attunement and presence, they will begin to develop trust as they turn on their social engagement system (or, as Steve Porges would say, they are now activating the ventral branch of their vagus nerve)."

"So when we enact our parental PART, we then connect with our child. Once he or she has moved from reactivity to receptivity, we can then begin the redirecting aspect of discipline, which will be how we teach about the particular issue unfolding at the time. Whether this is about not eating a whole cookie before dinner, not hitting a brother or learning to stop a video game and come to dinner after the second request, connecting first before redirecting will make the learning more likely to occur."

"One of Tina and my deepest hopes about this no-drama approach is that it will invite a new conversation about discipline — one that we hope will be good for parents and children alike to increase connection and optimize learning. We can all hope that with our prepared minds, we can help our world, one relationship at a time!"

Postpartum Depression: The Scoop on Prevention

May 5, 2017Postpartum Depression

Postpartum DepressionBy all accounts, I should have had Postpartum Depression. All the risks were there. Family History of depression? Check. Pain during pregnancy? Check. Traumatic pregnancy/birth? Check. Breastfeeding issues? Check. Baby who wouldn’t sleep? Check. If I had all of the risks associated with PPD, why was I able to escape the Fourth Trimester somewhat unscathed, while so many other moms suffer in silence from PPD/Anxiety.? After hearing some new research presented by Dr. Kathleen Kendall Tackett , Ph.D., IBCLC FAPA, I have a possible contender for my answer: breastfeeding. . All this time I thought that I was breastfeeding my babies as a gift for their future wellness, a completely selfless act of love between me and my tiny human and bonding us in a way that is unexplainable. All of that is still true, but who knew throughout my babies’ first year I was also shielding myself from developing Postpartum Depression/Anxiety?

Now, I must preface this by saying there is no judgment here if you are unable or make the choice not to breastfeed. I have complete trust that every mother whether they breastfeed, bottle feed or use some combination is making the best choice for themselves and their little one at that time. For me, if I am honest, with my first child, my choice to continue exclusively breastfeeding had more to do with fear of the wrath of my own Le Leche League Leader mother than nourishing my child. Research in the field of Psychonueroimmunology suggests that breastfeeding is not only protective for baby, but can also be hugely protective against the development of PPD/Anxiety in the mother.

PPD/anxiety affects 1 in 8-10 women who give birth, making it the leading complication of childbirth, and still women often suffer in silence.

While PPD/Anxiety can affect any mother, regardless of her history, there are risk factors, as I mentioned above. While speaking to a well-meaning psychiatrist recently he told me “the first thing I do when a woman is suffering from PPD is get her off breastfeeding. She needs sleep!” This old news pervasive way of thinking is completely out of sync with new data that states that when thinking about PPD, all roads lead back to inflammation. You know those risk factors I mentioned: pain, stress, history of familial mood disorders, sleep issues, trauma? They all cause an inflammatory response in your body. Women that experience PPD have a high inflammatory response. Guess what has anti-inflammatory effects? Breastfeeding!

Now from a practical standpoint, ok I get it, reduce maternal stress causing inflammation and decrease chances of PPD. Well, I don’t know about you, but predispositions aside, having a newborn is stressful. That is like telling me to get more sleep and I will feel better. Thanks. I know. I have always heard from my slightly smug well rested formula feeding friends that formula fed babies sleep longer. Here is some news that was new to me. According to a study by Doan et al. J. Perinat Neonat Nars 2007, exclusively breastfeeding mothers are getting 40 minutes more sleep than formula or mixed feeding mothers. Even though EBF babies were having more frequent awakenings, the EBF mother was able to fall back into deeper more quality sleep quicker than the Formula or mixed feeding mother. Because these mothers were getting slightly better sleep, they also had decreased inflammation. So, while some might advocate giving up breastfeeding to protect sleep, that treatment may backfire, increasing inflammation and the chances of developing PPD.

From a treatment standpoint, the takeaway for me is that in order to treat the Depression, we must treat the inflammation first. For example, we know chronic pain can lead to depression.

If the pain during breastfeeding is causing the inflammation, then let’s see if we can fix that with a lactation consultant and reduce the inflammation. Known treatments that reduce inflammation are exercise, anti-inflammatory nutritional supplements such as St. John’s Wort and EHA/DHA, and you guessed it, breastfeeding. Breastfeeding attenuates stress and protects maternal mood. In fact, all treatments for depression are anti-inflammatory and almost all are compatible with breastfeeding.

So, thanks, mom, for instilling in me an often dysfunctional fear of parental disappointment, and encouraging me to nurse those kiddos. All in all, I am adding this to the list of reasons why I am pretty convinced that boobs are absolutely the brains behind this operation.

Raised in Captivity: Creating Your Parenting Village

April 24, 2017Parenting Village

Creating Your Parenting VillageI recently heard this story about a Gorilla who was raised in captivity. I am probably about to leave out approximately one million tiny details in this story, but It goes like this: once upon a time, there was a female gorilla named “Maggie.” Maggie was born and raised in a zoo, where for unknown reasons, she was the only female. At a certain point, it was decided that the time had come for Maggie to have a gorilla baby. The powers that be brought in a male gorilla, they did their gorilla business, and lo an behold, Maggie gave birth to a beautiful baby gorilla. Now, remember, Maggie, being raised in captivity, had never seen a mother and baby. When Maggie gave birth, she stared at her baby, and the zookeepers were shocked to observe that she looked almost confused, walked away without picking up, or feeding the baby gorilla. In the weeks to follow, no one was successful in getting Maggie to attach to her baby, let alone feed the baby. Sadly, the baby passed away shortly thereafter. Thinking this had to be an anomaly, the zoo keepers decided to give it another go, and Maggie became pregnant again.

Now, I don't know who’s idea this next part was, but I am going to guess it was a mom, but someone decided that the problem was that Maggie had never seen mothers care for their babies, and she had never seen breastfeeding. The solution? Everyday women from Le Leche League volunteered to breastfeed their own babies in front of the gorilla area.

They did this in shifts, so Maggie had daily exposure to moms and babies. Sure enough, when she had her next baby, the most amazing thing happened. Maggie looked at her baby and immediately pulled her baby to breast and fed her baby, mimicking the moms that had come to be her guides, her own mama village.

In a sense, most of us in modern society are “raised in captivity.” Meaning, we may have not been around newborn babies, or witnessed a lot of breastfeeding before having our own children. One important predictor of breastfeeding success is, in fact, having seen breastfeeding before. Yes, breastfeeding is natural and normal, but because we have moved to a more private society, many moms need some guidance around breastfeeding. It’s tough to intuit something we have not seen. Sure, I had visited a friend or two that had had a baby, could I say that I was super comfortable with newborns, probably not. As awe inspiring as becoming a new parent to a tiny human can be, it can also be quite overwhelming and isolating at times.

Somewhere along the way, we have lost our village.

We have switched our view of parenting from an extended family, community endeavor, to something we need to manage on our own 24 hours a day, 7 days a week…..with little to no sleep. Somehow, some way , I managed to stumble into a breastfeeding support group in my son’s first month of life, which led me to a year long mommy and me group that I’m pretty sure saved me, my breastfeeding, and probably my sanity. Even though I was new to the city, I now had a sanctuary of other moms going through the same thing, was able to have a place to ask questions, share stories and even find humor in the dark times. I found my village.

Parenting is not easy, and I truly believe we were not meant to do this alone. I created Kinspace out of this need. The need for parents to have the support, education and tools they need to feel confident in their new roles, as well as a community to share it all with. I hope to share my passion, my vision, and make this community our village.

xx Susan