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Baby Blues or Postpartum Depression?

For many people, the line between the experience of Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression may be blurred. This is not because they are one in the same, but rather, there is a lack of education regarding the inherent differences between what may seem like similar symptom presentations. In fact, Postpartum Depression is just one subset of a greater category of Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorder (PMAD). Postpartum Depression appears to be a buzzword in today’s culture but it leaves out the anxiety, panic, and potential psychosis that can also be triggered during the pregnancy and after childbirth.

Symptoms of the Baby Blues:baby blues or postpartum depression

  • Anxiety
  • Lack of focus/concentration
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Change in sleeping habits
  • Frequent crying
  • Shifts in mood

Although many of the symptoms are the same between the Baby Blues and Postpartum Depression, the biggest difference lies in the duration. Baby Blues are a normal occurrence due to the fluctuations the mother’s hormones, may appear in the first week postpartum, and last at maximum of 1-3 weeks before dissipating. Postpartum Depression will last longer and can be triggered anytime within the first year of parenting.

Symptoms of Postpartum Depression:

Excessive worry

  • Guilt/Shame
  • Loss of interest in former pleasurable activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Irritability/Agitation
  • Sadness
  • Discomfort or fear around baby
  • Anxiety/Panic
  • Inability to bond with baby
  • Feeling poor about ability to parent and be a mother

Risk factors that can influence Postpartum Depression:

  • History of personal or familial Postpartum Depression and/or other mental illness
  • Life changes or stressors
  • Lack of support
  • Whether or not the pregnancy was planned
  • Infertility or previous complications with pregnancy
  • Perfectionistic tendencies
  • Unrealistic expectations of parenting or pregnancy

Treatment exists for those experiencing Postpartum Depression and can be beneficial to ensure the health and well-being of both mother and baby. If you or someone you know is unsure if her experience is Postpartum Depression or the baby blues, contact Katie Kmiecik, MA, LCPC or any other PMAD Specialist at Postpartum Wellness Center for more information www.postpartumwellnesscenter.com.

NSPT offers services in BucktownEvanstonHighland ParkLincolnwoodGlenview and Des Plaines. If you have questions or concerns about your child, we would love to help! Give us a call at (877) 486-4140 and speak to one of our Family Child Advocates today!

Help Instill Balanced Thinking in Your Child

Our goal is to help train your child’s brain when they make assessments about specific situations.  We need to make them aware that it girl thinkingis not the event or person that makes them feel a certain way; it is their thinking behind it. The more we are able to help children challenge their thoughts in an empathic manner,  the more often they will challenge their own thoughts automatically.

STEP ONE:   Gently challenge extreme or dramatic language:

  • If your child says something like, “Everyone at school hates me.  Respond with, “Hmmm.  That doesn’t sound realistic.  How can we make that a more realistic (balanced) statement?”
  • Help them replace extreme words with balanced words and refer to the specifics. Instead, they could say, “Sometimes I feel like kids like me at school  when we work on group projects, but they don’t talk to me on the playground.”
  • Help your child focus on actions they can take in order to remedy the situation and avoid feeling like a helpless victim:  “And I bet if we practice joining kids in talking to them about what they like, you’ll get better at making new friends.”
  • Provide opportunities to empower your child through practice: “How about you try introducing yourself to kids at the park?  If they are mean and reject you, we won’t take it personally and just try again until you get it.”

STEP TWO: Use and teach coping statements to your kids, such as:

  • This is hard, and that’s OK.
  • I have done what I can; now it is out of my hands.
  • One day at a time.
  • It’s a pain in the neck but it’s not a disaster.
  • Could be worse.
  • It’s not life-threatening; it’s not important.
  • If it’s beyond my control, let it go.
  • I’m not going to let this unhappy person spoil my day.
  • I only need to compare myself with myself.
  • S/he is not perfect and neither am I.
  • It takes two to tango; there must have been something I did to encourage this situation. What can I change?
  • People aren’t born evil; what is going on that makes this person treat me this way?
  • Justice is in the eye of the beholder.
  • I can learn life lessons (good or bad) from this situation.
  • In 5 years, will this even matter?

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Heavy Work Strategies for the Busy Family

Young Boy Holding a Pile of LaundryLife can get heavy from time to time and everyone gets stressed out. Unknowingly, many adults cope with said ‘stressors’ by incorporating various self-regulating strategies into their daily routines. They may take a deep breath or find their ‘zen’ in a yoga class. Some may take pleasure in the simplicity of sipping a warm cup of tea, while other more physical individuals resort to running a mile or two. Yet others prefer to lounge under a tree to read an enchanting romance novel. Children, like adults, need to have the ability to calm their bodies and self-regulate. One way for children to gather themselves in times of stress is by incorporating “heavy work” into their daily routine. ‘Heavy work’ activities provide deep proprioceptive input into a child’s muscles and joints, and thereby help them self-regulate in the same way that exercise may help an adult deal with stress.

Here are some examples of preparatory methods that can be incorporated into everyday life and used before a child encounters a stressful situation such as a loud birthday party, busy school day, or long car ride.

Heavy Work Activities To Provide Deep Proprioceptive Input For Children:

  • Help Mom: The completion of many chores can help incorporate ‘heavy work’ into a child’s daily routine. Examples include: carrying laundry, stirring recipes, pushing a grocery cart, or carrying shopping bags from the car.
  • Relay races and other forms of exercise are wonderful ways to build endurance and self-regulate. Examples include: wheelbarrow walks, froggy jumps, bear crawls, army crawls, crab walks, skipping, galloping, yoga, swimming, and gymnastics.
  • Play Outside: Take a walk and pull a wagon full of goodies, push a friend or sibling on the swing at the playground, build a
    sandcastle at the beach, or help around the house with yard work.
  • Rearranging Furniture: Pushing heavy chairs and couches provides deep proprioceptive input to the major joints and muscle groups of the body. You could put a fun spin on the activity and make a fort using furniture and blankets right in your living room!

‘Heavy work’ strategies can be incorporated into everyday life no matter the context or season. The use of these strategies may assist your child with more independence and self-soothing when they are feeling upset. This will also allow them to strengthen their muscles, increase their endurance, and may just help you cut back on the time spent completing housework chores. For other self-regulating ideas, please contact a NSPT occupational therapist.

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Up Up and Move Away with Kids!

Moving is already a stressful process without adding children into the equation.family moving day

Here is a list of life-saving tips that may help to ease both you and your children throughout the transition!

  • Before the move, start preparing the children by showing them books about moving to a new home. Show them pictures of the new city, the schools, the playground, the pool, etc. You should also discuss any feelings that the children may have regarding the move.
  • The day before the move, make sure the children have enough sleep.  Tired children will make the moving experience much more difficult for the entire family.
  • During the day of the move, have a backpack ready for each child that includes music, books, activities and additional batteries to keep them busy throughout the day.  Remember to pack snacks as well as the day will become quite busy. Hungry kids =cranky kids
  • Take a log of pictures of the entire experience, from packing and moving days to the first few weeks og living in the new house.  Make the experience very exciting!
  • Once you arrive at your new home, remember the needs of your children. You are bound to encounter issues that will most likely exhaust you. Consider hiring a babysitter for the first few days of the transition. An extra adult to have around will be able to give your children the attention they need while you are packing and unpacking.
  • Plan to take a day off from everything once you are finished with the move. This will allow the family to reconnect and recharge.

If your child is in therapy, ask your therapists for home program information so that you may continue the therapy on a daily basis.

Enjoy your new home!

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Food as Medicine

The seasons are about to change, school has resumed, and it’s only a matter of time before kids start getting sick. You can do your best to try to shave off those dreaded illnesses by ensuring proper nutrition and rest every day. But there’s just no avoiding it sometimes. Try not to get too stressed if your child has decreased intake when he or she is ill. It’s normal, and likely they will rebound after and make up for it by eating more of what they need for re-nourishment. Drinking adequate fluids is very important, however, as dehydration can have serious consequences. Also, adequate hydration helps the body “flush out” the bacteria, viruses, and immune factors causing symptoms.

sick child eating

For the following illnesses, here are some nutrition considerations:

Sore Throat. Eating and drinking can obviously be painful. Focus on cold, liquid foods.

  • Applesauce. Stir in quinoa for extra protein. Just cook the quinoa, let it cool, refrigerate, and stir into applesauce when your child is interested in eating.
  • Yogurt
  • Smoothies, made with yogurt, frozen fruit, and baby spinach leaves.
  • Gazpacho
  • Frozen bananas
  • Frozen fruit puree popsicles
  • Pediasure, especially if your child is on the low end of the growth chart, has other chronic medical issues, or otherwise has poor nutrition.

Diarrhea and/or Vomiting.

Gastrointestinal illnesses can occur for a variety of reasons. Likely eating or drinking will induce nausea. Hydration and electrolyte balance/replenishment are important with prolonged diarrhea and vomiting. Call the pediatrician if the vomiting or diarrhea persists longer than 24 hours. Seek medical care immediately if you see blood in the stool or emesis, and also if your child seems dehydrated. Some signs of dehydration are decreased urine output, darker colored urine, urine with a strong odor, dark circles under the eyes, lack of tears when crying, “tenting” of the skin (when you pull it up it doesn’t retract quickly), dry mouth, and lethargy. The best you can do is to encourage drinking fluids and eating small amounts as able. Focus on easily digested foods that are low in fat.

  • The BRAT diet (bananas, rice, applesauce, toast). These foods are easily digested, and the bananas and applesauce contain soluble fiber, which absorbs fluids in the gut and promotes a bulkier, more formed stool. This counteracts loose, watery diarrhea.
  • Congee is used to treat diarrhea, and versions of it are used in African, Indian, and Asian cultures. It’s basically rice that has been cooked for a long time with extra water so that it boils into a soupy mixture that is easily digestible .
  • Offer electrolyte replacement beverages, such as those discussed in my exercise hydration post. A great, natural option is called Recharge and can be found at Whole Foods and other natural grocery stores.
  • Some studies have shown improvement in duration of gastrointestinal symptoms with taking probiotics. See my probiotics blog for more recommendations.

Common cold or flu. Warming, soothing foods are usually best accepted.

  • Soups or stews. Take advantage of the opportunity to get some quality nutrition in these meals. Butternut squash soup is a good source of vitamin A, tomato soup is a good source of vitamin C, potato soup is a good source of potassium, and beef or chicken stew provides good protein.
  • Bone broth. This traditional soup is made by actually boiling bones for a prolonged time, which creates a broth full of the nutrients stored in bones. You can use bones from a whole chicken after cooking it and using the meat for another meal. Put them in a crock pot on low over night or simmer on the stove for 8-12 hours. Use the broth to make soups, noodles, congee, or drink it warmed.
  • Offer good vitamin C sources such as fresh citrus fruits.

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How to Cope with Night Terrors

Night terrors are a sleep problem that is most common in children ages 2-6 (but can occur at almost any age). They occur occasionally in about 15% of young children and can last 5-30 minutes. You may see your child bolted upright in bed, crying or screaming, sometimes appearing to be awake but with no recognition of who you are. Night terrors differ from nightmares in that your child is not likely to remember anything in the morning.child with a night terror

Because night terrors are considered normal, you do not need to seek treatment (as long as you have ruled out any underlying medical or mental health conditions). However, they are often very scary and distressing for both the children and their parents. What you can do, is identify ways to help your child cope with the stress and promote a calming sleep environment. Children who are overtired, experiencing stressful life events, or have a fever may be more likely to have night terrors.

If you catch your child in the middle of a night terror, it is suggested that you do not try to wake them out of it. This could scare them—especially because of your own stressed reaction. It is usually best to make sure they are safe (gently restrain if needed) and wait until it is over. You can provide comfort, speak softly and calmly, and help them return to sleep (in their own bed).

Steps You Can Take to Ease the Stress of Night Terrors:

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MOMMY-ITIS! What is it?

As moms, we share our brains with our children or our husband daily. They rarely are just our brains to do with what we please! So, what good tips can  you remember while using YOUR mommy brain so that you don’t spend your child’s childhood with MOMMY-ITIS?

How to handle your “Mommy Stress”:

  1. When you think about your kids, and what they did to make you angry, sad or stress you out: manage yourself. Focus on what you can do to make things better, not always trying to fix them. stressed mom with lots of kidsDo you need a better schedule? Do you need more breaks or more help at home? Do you need to communicate better with your husband to get the child behaving better? Do you need to meet with an expert to get parenting advice?
  2. Don’t REACT, ACT! Manage it!  We all have bad things happen to us, we just don’t have to be victimized by it. So, when the hubby is in a bad mood or the kids are obnoxious, don’t raise your tone and get all negative with everyone….get control! Use your positive and happy parenting and personal skills to make change in the present!
  3. Mom you probably get on your own case more than anybody! Do you think that If you are tough enough on yourself it will make you better? No! this is not good thinking! Be happy! You can set standards and have high expectations but you don’t need to beat the you know what out of yourself! Craziness does not get a good response! Look at yourself in the mirror and enjoy your age, your health, your being! Tell yourself you are trying hard and things are not horrible and you are happy to be alive and given privileges and chances to make your children good people with good lives! Be positive and use constructive language with yourself, don’t bring yourself down!

Be happy and get over your MOMMY-ITIS! THIS IS YOUR RX!

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Daddy’s Home!!! How To Keep A Positive Attitude After A long Day At Work

(This article is meant for fathers-but of course Moms, you can read too)

Like most of you dads out there, I work very hard each day. I rarely take a lunch break, and don’t take a lot of days off. That’s just how I am wired. I father home from workam confident that many of you fathers out there are the same way. It’s in our blood, it’s how we were raised, and we’re proud of our work ethic.

I am first and foremost, the proud, doting father to a 5 year old girl and a 2 year old boy. I would do anything for them at any time, just like you would do anything for your child at any time. Our young children don’t know why we work and come home tired. We do it for them, but they won’t understand it until they have kids someday.

There have been times when I’ve come home from a hard day, and not been “there” for my kids. I was tired or stressed or just not in a good mood. That’s normal, but how we react to feeling like that is critical. When I think about those times, I cringe. My kids are waiting for me. Should it be their problem that I had a busy day? I promised myself, not so long ago, that I would try my hardest to walk in the door each night with an over exaggerated, flamboyant, happy entrance that would help to ensure my kids never lose the “Daddy’s Home!!!” excitement.

5 Tips To Relieve A Bad Mood Before Coming Home To Your Kids:

  • On the drive home, turn the radio up loud, roll down the windows and sing a long.
  • Eat something ( I go with candy, but I don’t condone candy eating).
  • Do not answer the cell phone.
  • If driving helps, do what Supertramp says and “Take the Long Way Home”.
  • Think about your kids, and how fun it is to play with them when you get home and of course how great it feels to see their happy faces at your arrival.

Following these tips will not only ensure a stronger, healthier relationship with your children, but it will also help you feel better about yourself and your day!

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