Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Looking after baby's skin

Why your baby’s skin needs special care

We used to think that baby’s skin was fully developed at birth and that it was just like an adult’s skin – only thicker, softer and silky-smooth without blemishes, scars or wrinkles!

Research has changed all that. Today we know that a baby’s skin is very different. For the first nine months a baby’s life, s/he swims in a liquid called amniotic fluid. For protection from constant moisture, the skin develops a waxy-layer called vernix, and fine hair called lanugo. After the birth, the baby’s skin has to adapt to living in air or a dry environment, to chemicals, clothes, nappies, the weather and pollution. 

A baby’s skin is delicate and fragile and unnecessary irritants can cause atopic dermatitis (skin rashes) and eczema.

Baby-skin plusses:

A baby’s skin is made to stretch and grow. Because babies are growing so quickly, their skin cells must divide and multiply faster than they ever will again to keep up with this growth. If you could take a microscopic look at your baby’s skin, you would find lots of hard-working fibroblasts. These are the ‘scaffolding’ for new cells to grow. The quick turn-over and easy-replacement of skin cells means that babies heal faster than adults do, and they’re less likely to scar.

Baby-skin minuses:

The outer layer of a baby’s skin (called the epidermis) is 20 – 30% thinner than the skin of an adult, and this makes it an ineffective barrier. This means that babies lose body moisture more easily, their skin is easily irritated (damaged) and can become infected because babies have a weak immune system.

The temperature-controlling mechanism of skin is immature in babies. Because they don’t sweat they can overheat. But they can also lose heat through their skin, putting them at risk for getting cold or becoming hypothermic.

Apart from premature and small-for-dates babies, baby’s skin has more fat cells which means that it’s easier for fat soluble substances (and chemicals) to be absorbed into their skin.

A baby’s skin can sunburn more easily because they make less of the pigment called melanin that helps to protect their skin from the ultraviolet rays of the sun.

Finally, because a baby’s skin ‘dries out’ more easily, they’re more prone to eczema.

How can you protect your baby’s skin?

While your baby needs some sunshine for Vitamin D, it’s important to protect your baby’s skin from the harsh ultraviolet rays of the sun. You can’t use sunscreen because it’s absorbed by your baby’s fat cells, so it’s important not to take your baby out in the sun at the hottest time of the day for more than ten minutes at a time. Your baby should be wearing a sunhat, be covered with a shade in the stroller and ideally have baby sunglasses for the glare.

Don’t use harsh chemicals on your baby’s skin – these are absorbed into the baby’s skin and can cause skin irritations. Only use baby-care products of the highest quality.
If your baby has ‘baby acne’ this usually clears on its own without chemicals, scrubbing or astringents.

Don’t use insect repellents on your baby’s skin.

Only use carefully formulated skin products that cater specifically for a baby’s skin.

Skin care is important throughout life. Preventing sunburn can go a long way to minimizing the risk of melanoma’s or skin cancer when your child is older. Healthy skin is the sign of a healthy body. Beauty may only be skin-deep, but the skin is the body’s outer cover that we show to the world.

Probiotic Baby Body Cream
Soothing Baby Lotion 
Pics and links attached:

Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Learning to cope as new parents

Parenthood – the ultimate endurance test.

I was watching a reality TV show called the ‘Ultimate Endurance Test’. It's about people who attempt (and mostly achieve) the impossible. I was also flipping through a baby magazine when my eye caught the winning letter. It was from a mom describing how excited she was about becoming a mom when she was pregnant, but what a shock motherhood was when her baby was born.

The devastated new mom wrote about coming home from the hospital with a baby who cried, pooped and puked non-stop 24/7! She described her life as a living nightmare asking how it was possible that a tiny baby could reduce her to a nervous wreck, undermine her confidence and shatter her dreams of being the ‘perfect mother’!

I looked back at the TV and watched a mountaineer clinging to sheer rock, surrounded by nothingness. I knew just how this mother felt.

Nothing can prepare you for the realities of early parenthood. Life in the fast lane dictates that to be successful, men and women have to achieve academically or climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Motherhood in particular, is low on the priority list. Women with children in the work-place (isn’t that most of us) are sometimes labelled ‘problematic’ because they often need extra time off work when their children are sick, and they’re supposedly not always focused on what’s important for the business.

So, moms (and dads) out there, here are some coping tips I’ve learned over the years.
  • Work smart. Learn to take short cuts. Ask for help. Offer to help when you can (this puts you in credit for when you need help). Learn time-saving tricks.
  • Learn to say no when it’s only your reputation that’s at stake or when you know that saying yes will only make your life difficult.
  • Teach your family to help. It will boost their confidence and make them feel important rather than an expensive appendage. Give each child an age-appropriate responsibility.
  • Do things to the best of your ability, but don’t expect perfection. It will drive you crazy. Remember that for your children, everything is practice. For you, it’s the real-deal. Our priorities are very different.
  • Preparation is everything! If you’re hoping for a successful outcome, put all your effort into the preparation. Teach your children to do the same.

Day-to-day life with a new-born who quickly becomes a toddler, then a child (or children when siblings are added), tweens and finally teens is the ultimate endurance test. It’s also the ultimate learning curve for moms and dads who, fortunately, mostly take on this challenge with determination to reach the finish-line together, as a family. Believe me, while it also takes patience, persistence and perseverance, the rewards (in years to come) are well worth the effort! 

Thursday, 24 May 2018

Menstruation is a celebration

28th May – Menstrual Hygiene Day: Breaking the silence around periods

Why is it that so many feisty, confident young girls become shy and self-conscious when they get to high school or University – to the point of getting lower grades, withdrawing from sport and other social activities? What happens to them during these years when they become aware of who they are rather than who they want to be? Could it be that their bodies are changing, and that nobody understands them because well, they don’t understand themselves?  Can periods, that are supposed to be normal, interfere with a girl’s hopes and dreams for her future?

28th of May 2018 has been marked “World Menstrual Hygiene Day”, a day aimed to educate women and girls about their periods and understanding their cycle. Menstrual Hygiene Day also aims to break the silence around periods, thus enabling both girls and women to reach their full potential.

In a patriarchal society, menstruating women are considered ‘unclean’. As far back as Biblical Days, when women had their periods, they were obliged to separate themselves from their husbands and their community. The Red Tent is a beautiful novel written by Anita Diamant that tells the story of Dinah, daughter of Jacob and sister to Joseph. The book title refers to the tent in which women of Jacob's tribe must, according to the ancient law, take refuge while menstruating or giving birth. During their seven-day retreat into this tent, they find support and encouragement from their mothers, sisters and aunts.

Sadly, the idea that menstrual blood is ‘dirty’ still stands in many societies today. For example, ‘niddah’ in Judaism, is the word used to describe a woman during menstruation who has not yet completed ‘mikveh’ (ritual bath) seven days after starting her period. In the Book of Leviticus, the Torah prohibits sexual intercourse during menstruation.

In the Hindu faith, menstruating women are considered ‘impure’ and are obliged to follow specific rules. They are seen as ‘polluted’, and are often isolated as ‘untouchables’, unable to return to their family for the duration of their period. Additionally, menstruating women not allowed to touch anything related to God or be involved in any religious activity while she has her periods.

Anthropologists of religion on the other hand, point out that the concepts 'sacred' and 'unclean' may be intimately connected. Where women's blood is considered sacred, the belief is that it should be ritually set apart. According to this logic, it is when sacred blood comes into contact with profane things that it becomes experienced as ritually dangerous or 'unclean'.

Leslie Kenton, in her book ‘Passages to Power’ writes about ‘blood mysteries’ and how the power of creation was believed to come from the blood that pours from a woman’s body – like the ebb and flow , the waxing and waning of the moon. Medieval physicians believed that a young woman’s menstrual blood could cure leprosy and act as an aphrodisiac (the aphrodisiac part still applies in some parts of the world today – certainly I have heard of this from girls in South Africa).

Ancient Hindus taught that all life comes from the goddess of creation Kali-Ma. The Great Mother’s ‘menstrual substance’ thickened to form the crust from which all solid matter came.

Even the word blessing that comes from the Old English word ‘bloedsed’, which means bleeding.

This translates that ‘bleeding is a blessing’ or ‘menstruation is a celebration’ because when a woman’s womb ‘bleeds’ regularly, it means that she is in tip-top health and ready to conceive.

Just think about it: human life cannot be created without the blood of a woman’s womb!

So why should girls and women be shy, ashamed and embarrassed by their periods? Menstruation is the gift of passing on life. Conception is the ultimate union of perhaps millions of years of genetics passed from one generation to the next, culminating in the birth of a baby, destined to continue the survival of our species, through woman.  

Join us in celebrating World Menstrual Hygiene Day on Monday, 28th May, 2018.

For more information on Menstrual Hygiene visit or follow Kotex on Facebook (

Thursday, 17 May 2018

Coping with a premature baby

                                                    Then .........

Born too soon

At the end of May, our little preemie granddaughter will celebrate her first birthday. Still tiny, she has made good progress in spite of setbacks and some of the complications caused by prematurity.

A premature baby is born before 36 weeks. Prematurity is usually caused by pregnancy problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, placental problems, trauma, infections, a weak cervix (mouth of the womb), multiples (twins or triplets), the mother’s age and sometimes, for unknown reasons.

Prematurity is stressful for parents, traumatising for baby and demanding on the medical team. This team includes the paediatrician, neonatal nursing sisters and other specialists such as physiotherapists, neurologists and dietitians.

The high-care unit is a busy place with people, equipment, lights and incubators. It’s frightening when parents see their tiny baby covered with tubes, drips and monitor leads. Visiting is limited to parents only. Strict hygiene is essential for infection control. Hands must be washed and parents are gowned and masked. Mothers are encouraged to start expressing breast milk even when she only has colostrum (first milk).

The nursing staff in neonatal high-care units are dedicated to their preemies and empathetic with parents. They should take the time to explain what the equipment is for, the treatment plan and any progress their baby is making. Parents can spend weeks and even months at their baby’s bedside, and a good relationship between the medical staff and the parents goes a long way to helping parents stay positive. This helps them to bond with their baby, and mom to make enough milk to feed her baby through a tube.

Anxious parents want to know if their baby will survive, and if their baby will be normal. They also have a life outside the hospital – a job, a family and other responsibilities. Parents are often plagued with question from family and friends when they themselves don’t know the answers. Mother’s especially are afraid to voice her fears – did I do something wrong, am I being punished, is God teaching me a lesson?

When the big day comes for parents to take their baby home, excited as they may be, they’re also hesitant and apprehensive because they won’t have the security of nursing staff to help them. It helps when it’s not their first baby – but it’s doubly-scary when this little preemie is the couple’s first baby and they’re not familiar with baby do’s and don’ts!

Parents with a preemie need to understand that it’s normal to have to deal with:

Overwhelming feelings of not coping
Dealing with overanxious grandparents
Being super-sensitive about what people say
Worrying about not ‘bonding’ with their baby
Delayed milestones and unexpected medical setbacks.
Coping tips:

Ask questions while your baby is still in hospital
Don’t consult ‘Dr Google’ – ask your paediatrician
Don’t miss follow-up appointments
Immunise your baby
Don’t hesitate to phone your paediatrician if you are worried about anything
Take pictures
Communicate with family and friends. They’re often hesitant to start a conversation or to ask questions in case these offend you
Celebrate your baby’s birth.

                                                                            ........and now!

Thursday, 10 May 2018

Remembering Mom on Mother's Day

Motherless Moms remembering our mothers on Mother’s Day

For their sixth wedding anniversary Dad bought Mom and brand-new Bernard Stein piano. Back then it was trendy to have a sing-song around the piano, and Dad enjoyed singing. Mom and Dad went into town one Saturday morning and bought some sheet music of popular songs of the day. One of these was called MOTHER.
Remembering the chorus this Mother’s Day, I pay tribute to our dearest Mom – ‘sweet Evelyn’.
M – ‘Is for the million things you gave me’. When you were widowed so young Mom, you couldn’t afford to give us a million things – but what we lacked in material goodies, you made up with love!
O – ‘Means that you’re growing old’. How difficult it was watching you grow old and so forgetful.
“Who is this good-looking young man” you asked me one day.
“This is John Mom. My husband”
“You’re married?”
“Yes, for some time now”
 “And you never told me!”
T – ‘Is for the tears you shed to save me.’ This I could never understand as a child. I imagined my mother holding a little bottle under her eyes to catch her tears for me. I thought - what for?
H – ‘Is for her heart of purest gold.’ That it surely was – and warm too
E – ‘Is for her eyes with love-light shining’ but I remember those eyes aiming daggers at me from the other side of the room when I was doing something wrong!
R – ‘Means right, and right she’ll always be’ – I still count on Mom’s wisdom and pray for her guidance.
‘Put them all together, they spell MOTHER. The word that (still) means the world to me’.

We thought of you with love today, but that is nothing new
We thought about you yesterday and days before that too.
We think of you in silence, we often speak your name
All we have now are memories and your picture in a frame.
Your memory is our keepsake with whom we will never part
God has you in His keeping, we have you in our hearts!