Antenatal screening is one of the fundamental ways of checking the health of your unborn baby and is a way of detecting early problems and illness. Antenatal screening is offered at different points throughout your antenatal journey, in this article Rachel Curran, midwife and Founder of Bitbaby explains the antental screening tests you may be offered and what to expect from your antenatal appointments.
During your booking appointment, a midwife will take a full detailed history about you, your partner and your families. The information that is required is any information that may impact upon yours or your baby’s well being during your pregnancy. Antenatal Screening is offered during this consultation.
A routine set of blood tests are performed so that we can have a baseline reading of certain blood results. To ensure your well being early in your pregnancy. A Full Blood Count checks your iron levels, as they can become depleted further along in your pregnancy. Also to ensure there are no signs of infection.
We need to identify your blood group ( as this is important to know as a precaution ). Also during this test we need to identify what your Rhesus Factor is. You can either be Rhesus Positive or Rhesus Negative. If you are Rhesus Positive this means that your red blood cells carry a Rhesus factor protein. If your Rhesus Negative then this is absent. It is of no harm to your wellbeing when not pregnant. However being Rhesus negative is significant during pregnancy, as your unborn baby may have a rhesus positive blood group. We do not screen unborn babies for their rhesus factor, therefore if we identify that you are Rhesus Negative you will be offered Anti D injection.
Anti D injection is given as a precaution to prevent antibodies developing if rhesus negative blood has mixed with rhesus positive blood. One attacks the other via an immune response.
Further optional screening blood tests Check for immunity to rubella (German measles), and test for hepatitis B, syphilis, and HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases. The reason we offer these tests is because treatment has advanced and early detection, early treatment aims to prevent/reduce the exposure to your unborn baby.
Usually between 10 to 13 weeks you will have a Dating Scan. A dating scan is an ultrasound examination which is performed in order to establish the gestational age of the pregnancy. Dating scans also reveal other important information such as:
● the number of babies and gestation sacs
● presence of a heart beat
● size of your unborn baby, from which the gestational age is estimated
● unusual features of the uterus such as the shape or the presence of fibroids.
During this scan it is important to note that we are ruling out some potential abnormalities also, we are checking for the presence of brain and all limbs as well as a heartbeat. Also during this scan a further screening test can be performed.
Combined Screening Test
There is a fluid filled space at the back of the unborn baby’s neck that is called the nuchal fold. If the measurement of this space is increased in size this may be an indication that the unborn baby may be affected by an abnormality. As an addition to this measurement there is a blood test that can be performed on the same day. This blood test checks for certain markers that if raised may also be an indicator for fetal abnormalities. Maternal age is taken into consideration also. The results of the combined test give a risk factor ratio.
This is not a diagnostic test.
If you consent to a combined screening test and your risk factor result is raised you may be offered diagnostic tests. Diagnostic tests are invasive and carry risks. If you are offered particular tests all of the aspects, procedure, risk and outcomes will be discussed in depth with you by health professionals.
For further information or advice please contact us via the contact me form
Written 2019 by Rachel Curran midwife and founder of Bit Baby
So when should your child be sitting, standing, rolling and walking and why is it so important that we know? Read on to have the child development milestones revealed!
What are gross motor skills and why are they so important? Gross motor skills are important for major body development such as walking, jumping, skipping, reaching, sitting, standing and maintaining balance and co-ordination. Gross motor skills involve movement of the large muscles in arms, legs and torso. There are many important gross motor milestones in your little ones life and many milestones which your child should meet, sitting, standing, running, rolling jumping and so on. Without the development of these large muscle groups, development of the fine motor muscles is more difficult. For example, if a child cannot sit, expecting them to be able to control their body to write or hold a pencil effectively is a milestone that is quite out of reach. Take a look at this chart which highlights development in key areas.
If at any point you have any concerns about your child’s development, while they are under five your health visitor or GP should be your first point of call. Following five, care will pass from the health visitor to school nurse and your school SENDCo should be able to pass you the relevant contact details and discuss any concerns with you too. Our lottery funded classes provide activities which will support all of these key areas of learning and THIS is why coming along to our classes is great for your little ones development and co-ordination primarily, as well as providing fun, play based classes for your little one to learn in. Please sign up to www.beautifulnewbeginnings.co.uk and click lottery funded classes to come along to one of our courses! We can’t wait to meet you!
The topic of massage oils is one that comes up time and time again and rightly so! Your babies skin is so delicate and fragile that you should be asking these questions! So here’s some information that will help you to make an informed decision about the oils you use and what you put on your little ones skin.
There are many oils available on the market catered for baby massage and whilst Beautiful New Beginnings does not advocate any particular massage oil in particular, we will give you the information from leading studies and the science behind certain oils.
For many years olive oil has been used for massage and recommended by instructors. However, recent research in 2009 found that Olive Oil is particularly high in oleic acid. Oleic acid, with prolonged use, can cause the skin barrier to break down and essentially your babies skin to become more permeable. As such, prolonged use of olive oil for baby or infant massage is not recommended.
For the same reason, sunflower oil is also not recommended as it once was. Again, high levels of oleic acid found in the oil can damage the skin with prolonged use which can be especially damaging for those babies with dermatological issues or family history of eczema, dermatitis and other such conditions.
So what oils are suitable then?
It is always recommended to use an edible oil where possible as these oils are more easily digestible, more easily absorbed by the skin. When using synthetic oils, the particles in the oil are often too big to ever be absorbed into your babies skin. It will sit on top of the skin, forming a filmy layer on the skin. Edible oils are not only easily absorbed into your babies skin, but they are also more easily digested should your baby put their hands into their mouth.
In this sense then, edible oils are more widely recommended by instructors, and those low in oleic acid and high in linoleic acid. Alongside this, organic oils are better for babies skin, as no herbicides, pesticides or other chemicals have been used during growth and production. Moreover, cold pressed oils are also highly recommended.
Cold pressed oils typically retain more nutrients than oils which have been extracted through heating. This means your babies skin will benefit from the natural minerals and compounds found within the oil.
Many people ask about the benefit of coconut oil and again, whilst there are no right or wrong answers on the use of coconut oil, it must be remembered that the coconut is a complex character! It is a seed, a fruit and a nut! A seed because it is the reproductive part of the tree, a fruit, because it is a fibrous one-seeded drupe, and a nut, because a nut is nothing but a one seeded fruit! Coconut oil is also highly scented, one of the key benefits of massage is that babies can connect with a parent or caregivers natural smell first and foremost. Should you want to use coconut oil, fractionated oil is unscented and may be a better option.
That being said, it is important whatever oil you choose to use to patch test the oil first. Patch testing involves rubbing a small amount of your chosen oil onto the inside of your little ones arm 5-10 minutes before the massage begins. When we patch test, it is important to complete this before every massage due to the changeable nature of your babies skin. A patch test should confirm a no reaction is present. We are looking for anything that becomes red, raised and bumpy. Anything that looks like hives, or small red raised lumps on babies skin indicates a possible reaction and that the oil should not be used.
Other possible options of oil include avocado oil, apricot oil, rapeseed oil or corn oil, all of which are widely available in health food shops or online. Many may also be available in bigger supermarkets and a little will go a long way!
Should your baby struggle with eczema, it is absolutely fine to massage with double base and other emollient style moisturisers recommended by health care professionals. Indeed, this can become a lovely time for a short massage during the day which incorporates both medical need and bonding.
In short, whatever oil you choose to massage with is your choice. Feel free to do your own research and find an oil that suits your little one. Should you not want to use any oils at all, that too is fine, the oil will help your hands glide more fluidly over your babies body, but it is not essential and should you not choose to use it, massage can still be completed really effectively and strong bonds and communication between parent and child formed.
Tummy time is the name given to the amount of time on their tummy a baby spends when awake and the benefits to both baby and parent/carer are huge.
Tummy Time was a term coined in the 1980’s when studies found that it was safer for babies to sleep on their backs and in doing so, SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome) was greatly reduced. The Back to Sleep Campaign launched by The Lullaby Trust in the 1980’s saw incidence of SIDS fall by 80%. However, whilst this is undoubtedly the safest way for babies to sleep, the effects on babies gross motor development and the meeting of developmental milestones was subsequently affected.
In research, it has been shown by many paediatricians that front sleeping babies developed gross motor ability and met developmental milestones on time, or earlier than babies who slept on their back. Whilst it would never be suggested to return to a front sleeping method for our babies, this research did promote the ‘Back to Sleep Front to Play,’ advice promoted in the late 1990’s.
So what is tummy time and what are the benefits?
Tummy time as suggested earlier in the article is simply the time a baby spends on their tummy during their waking time and the benefits to baby are plentiful
Builds neck and shoulder muscles
Helps prevent flat spot forming on head
Promotes gross motor skill
Helps lifting head
Helpful for torticollis – shortening of the neck muscles on one side
Helps prepare for rolling, sitting, standing and crawling
Develops hand eye co-ordination
Strengthens hands and extremities
Helps visual focus
Develops eye tracking
Strengthens jaw muscle and tongue – beneficial for breastfeeding and weaning
Increases cognitive development stimulates senses
Can alleviate trapped wind and soothe colic
Helps develop babies sense of touch
Develops mind and body awareness and co-ordination
Regulates and strengthens digestive system, respiratory system and stimulates circulatory system
Aids overall development
As you can see theres plenty of reasons for babies to spend some time whilst awake playing on their tummy.
Tummy time is a proven method of increasing cognitive development and gross motor development and should be practiced from birth.
Our next blog will give you some handy hints on how to incorporate tummy time into your daily routine for different age groups and how to support your baby during this time.
Autism is a word that’s used a lot these days and diagnosis of ASD have increased dramatically over the previous ten years.
The Autism Organisation https://www.autism.org.uk/ state that there are around 700,000 people diagnosed in England, a rate of around every 1 in 100 people.
The Autism Organisation defines Autism as,
‘a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.’
It is important to remember that Autism is a spectrum disorder, and that on this spectrum, individuals will be affected differently There may be some common traits that those with autism share, but those individuals may feel the effects of their autism very differently.
Many parents worry about whether their children will have a learning disability as well as their autism and again, every child is different. What we do know however is that with the right help and support, all children are capable of living a happy, satisfying life, and all are capable of learning and making progress.
For many parents, it is a difficult and long process to begin the exploration of whether their child has autism. Here is the definition taken again from the Autism Organisation
One way speech and conversation, not taking into account what others say
Echlolalia – repeating what has been said ‘parrot fashion.’
May be overwhelmed in social situations, appear to need time alone
Seemingly insensitive of others feelings
Highly focussed interests/Obsessions
Hyper or Hypo sensitivity to sensory input
These commonalities may be present in your child, but remember, this list is not exhaustive and your concerns can always and should always be discussed with a healthcare professional. It may be that your child is monitored as many of these commonalities can also be age appropriate and developmental too.
If you do think there are concerns about your child’s development please reach out to us at
Troublesome Teething, those troublesome teeth can cause all manner of problems for our little ones and some suffer more than others! For those little ones who struggle, teething can be a horrible time, but fortunately it does not last forever! This stage too shall pass.
Teething or, ‘cutting teeth,’ is the process in which an infants first teeth often known as milk teeth, ‘cut through,’ the gums. Teeth typically arrive in pairs and usually with the bottom two front teeth cutting first. Teeth typically start appearing around 6-10 months of age though teething symptoms may be there from around three months.
A child will have twenty teeth, which can take several years to erupt with children typically having all of their first teeth by age 3.
Although the process is known as ‘cutting teeth,’ when teeth emerge, they do not actually cut through the flesh. Instead, hormones are released that cause some cells in the gums to die and separate and this allows the teeth to come through. Symptoms of teething are usually worse 5 days before teeth come through.
So what are the common signs of teething
Chewing on hands and toys
Irritability, pain or discomfort
Being off food and drink
What can you do to support teething?
Provide cold soothing teething rings
Put a sterile clean flannel that’s been soaked and squeezed until its damp in a bag in the freezer. It’ll provide a ready made teething aid.
Medicated teething gels can help
Provide hard toys for gnawing and chewing
If your child has a raised temperature, this is not often a sign of teething. Please seek medical support if this persists. Many childhood infections can occur that can be mistaken for teething. If in doubt, always seek the advice of a medical professional.
Home Schooling and how to support your child, read on and take the Home School Health Check!
I can’t work, I’m hungry!’
‘Mum, no offense, but I need a professional to teach me!’
‘No, I can’t do it today, I’m rubbish, I don’t get it.’
Sound familiar? We’ve heard from many parents during this period about the ‘joys’ of home schooling. From the ups of discovering new arts and craft activities to the downs of having to Google what a fronted adverbial is.
Did you know that it’s not just your child and family having these conversations? We all have basic needs that need to be attended to first before we can even think of home schooling. Abraham Maslow famously wrote about the hierarchy of needs that underpin everything we do – children and parents alike.
Physiological needs – there is such a thing as being ‘hangry’. Kids are unlikely to engage if they their basic needs are not met. This is why schools have breakfast clubs. Likewise, as a parent you are not going to be able to concentrate if you need the loo, or are tired.
Safety needs – your child is unlikely to be ready to learn if they have just been yelled at. Home schooling needs to feel supportive and an environment where it is safe to make mistakes. Likewise you probably won’t be able to give home schooling your best shot if you are worried and thinking about how you are going to pay the bills or what will happen after the furlough scheme ends.
Love / belonging needs – We all need to feel part of a team to perform at our best. To be loved and feel belong is a basic human need. So your sulky pre-teen is going to need a bit of time to readjust after being sent to their room. And as a parent, you are not going to be your home schooling best if you have had a bust-up with the other half.
Esteem needs – Children need to believe that they have capability. Plenty of praise and encouragement helps. Likewise, when we scroll through parenting groups it’s hard not to feel in competition with other parents on home schooling. Be kind to yourself, and know that you are doing your best.
Self-actualisation – all of the magic comes together at the top of the pyramid. When all of the basic needs are met, your child is ready to learn, and you are in a position to give home schooling your best shot.
We are currently working on packages to support the most challenging of these needs – around how to motivate your child, build their self-esteem and resilience in the face of challenges.
In conclusion, remember the occasional INSET day is OK, and your job in this situation is to parent, rather than teach. We are reliably informed that baking a cake on an off day counts as Food Technology and Maths; and that gin is the answer to home schooling. Cheers.