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Li-Hsian

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Many of us modern mums have taken Prenatal Yoga classes. It’s a popular and safe form of exercise during pregnancy that keeps expecting mummies limber, strong and flexible; helping to prepare you for childbirth and motherhood. Prenatal Yoga is relaxing and great for stress relief as it teaches you to breathe deeply to stay calm and focused. It not only helps relieve pregnancy related aches and pains (especially back ache and Sciatica) but also promotes better balance, sleep, blood circulation, and energy levels. The classes are a special time to bond with your unborn baby and with other mums-to-be, allowing you to be a part of a special supportive community. I really enjoyed my 6-months of Prenatal Yoga practice and looked forward to it weekly.

However, like many new mums, my focus and attention shifted entirely from my own well-being as an expecting mum to my twins as soon as they were born. I became very absorbed in my new role and responsibilities. As a result I neglected myself, as well as my overall well-being. I experienced pains no one had talked about. So, I was very thrilled when my yoga teacher, Angeline Liew of Prana Yoga KL told me about their new Postnatal Goddess Wellness Programme. I had not heard of postnatal yoga practice before. Angeline explained that whilst prenatal yoga prepares you for childbirth, postnatal yoga works to rebuild, restore and rejuvenate. Below is my review of the programme:

Yay

  • Yoga in general is a great way for new mummies to stay healthy, heal and find inner strength
  • Prana Yoga KL‘s Postnatal Goddess Wellness Programme is a dedicated 6-week program, with weekly sessions of 75 mins each
  • It is a tailored programme, unlike the usual drop-in prenatal or regular yoga classes. Of course, you have the option for resuming your yoga practice in a regular adults’ yoga class, but a postnatal programme is specifically designed for the new mother’s state of mind. It does this by “mothering the mother” – teaching her techniques needed to manage the many demands of being a new parent
  • As per Angeline, “it took 40 weeks and one birth to get to this special time of your life, so as a new mother, you should give yourself (at least) another nine months to get back to some degree of ‘normalcy’.” What the postnatal programme does is help you to kick-start this healing journey by:
    • Teaching you how to tune inwards, and listen to what your body is ready to do
    • Helping you understand that “getting in shape” isn’t top priority. Instead, it emphasises the importance of rebuilding physical strength, stability and stamina. The course is designed to improve muscle tone and flexibility especially in the abdomen, back and pelvis – areas that need the most attention in a postpartum body
    • Including a wide variety of lower and upper back stretches to ease the tension accumulated over the pregnancy, and to release tightness due to engorged breasts from breastfeeding
    • Demonstrating how you can incorporate yoga staples i.e. pelvic strengthening floor exercises, chest openers and joint mobility exercises into your daily life
    • Building strength in your arms, lower body and core (to further tone the abdomen) as the course progresses
    • Showing you special breathing exercises to achieve and maintain emotional and mental harmony; bringing the body back into a restorative state optimal for rest, healing and balance
  • The teacher Angeline Liew is very pleasant and experienced. She teaches both prenatal and postnatal yoga classes
  • Prana Yoga KL is located at TTDI’s Pusat Kreatif Kanak-Kanak Tuanku Bainun, a secure and family-friendly location
  • “Practice makes Progress” is Prana Yoga KL‘s mantra. Unlike some other studios, practising yoga here’s not just about the achievement of poses, but about making each practice a personal step towards wellness, self transformation and living your best life. It’s also a business with a social enterprise spin. Every time someone comes to a class, they donate RM1 to a selected charity as part of their unique Pledge a Ringgit™ programme

Nay

  • There’s no fixed enrolment date. Prana Yoga KL can start a programme as soon as there are a minimum of 4 sign-ups, with timing suited to participants. Whilst it is more cost effective and nicer to do this programme with other new mummies, it can be quite hard to for the studio to round-up such a group to commit to a particular 6-week period.  After waiting a few weeks for enough sign-ups so the programme could start, I decided to proceed with the programme on a one-on-one basis
  • The programme’s benefits are best realised when the sessions are strictly done over the 6-week period. I ended up stretching it out to a few extra weeks as there were some weeks where I was away and could not go for practice.  This was not ideal. It’s best to ensure you have a clear 6-week schedule before you commit to this course.

You can undertake the programme after your confinement period (2 months for natural delivery, 6 months for a Caesarean birth). Mummies who are keen, kindly email Prana Yoga KL at [email protected] for the next intake dates, or refer to their Facebook Page and website for more information.

Li-Hsian recently left a career in corporate communications to become a full-time mum to twins. She is learning new things daily as she tries to balance the romance of motherhood with the messy realities of her latest role.

Image Credit: Prana Yoga KL

LH

Li-Hsian, freelance writer and stay-at-home mother to 18-month-old twins shares with us her most and least used purchases during her first year of motherhood:

Most Used:

  1. Ye!! BTS700 Portable Bluetooth Speakers: When the twins were newborns, one of the best ways to soothe them to sleep was to stream Mozart wirelessly from my iPhone into their cots via these Bluetooth speakers.
  2. Safety 1st Baby Nail Clippers: Like many first-time mothers, I was terrified of accidentally snipping off their fingertips and causing a nasty infection. The Safety First nail clipper is designed to cut those tiny nails safely every time. There is even one for clipping a sleeping baby’s nails.
  3. Pumpkin Patch Mittens for Newborns: I loved these snug “sock-like” mittens by Pumpkin Patch as they stayed on, and kept my babies’ hands warm and safe from their own sharp nails.
  4. Aden + Anais Swaddles: Am a big fan of Dr Harvey Karp’s 5S Method to soothe crying babies that calls for the use of swaddles. These were perfect for the task as they are soft and sizeable, plus they come in exquisite designs.
  5. Mothers En Vogue Bamboo Wrap: A luxurious and fashionable wrap that can double-up as a nursing poncho or a shawl for a dinner party. The lightweight, breathable natural fabric ensures baby remains cool while breastfeeding. 
  6. Drybib: This fashionable but functional bib has a thin layer of specially developed fleece at the back that absorbs and disperses all dribbles; and acts like a “tunnel” so the air lets the moisture evaporate right away.
  7. Pureen Rubber Cot Sheets: Water proof, easy to clean and great for after bath or diaper changes. Cheap enough for you to place a few around the house.
  8. IKEA ANTILOP Baby High Chair with Tray: In my opinion, still the best high chair for babies as it’s inexpensive and easy to maintain.
  9. Nose Frida Nasal Aspirator and Baby Sterimar Saline Nasal Spray: The go-to combination when your baby has a cold complete with running nose and phlegm.
  10. Parklon PVC Playmat: Our babies have used it everyday since they were 5.5 months old, and are still using it at 18 months. The thick mat keeps our active tots safe as they play; and learn how to crawl, cruise and walk. We love it so much that we tote it along when we travel.
Didn’t Use Enough:
  1. The First Years Close and Secure SleeperWe initially used them as portable sleepers for our newborn twins but they outgrew them quickly.
  2. ErgoCocoon and Summer Sleep Bag: Useful for a little while when the twins were newborns but they soon started sticking their fingers outside. Aden + Anais swaddles, when bundled around baby tightly, actually serve the same purpose.
  3. Bumbo SeatI bought a second-hand one for my daughter to prop her up for feeding when we first started solids. We used it for a few weeks but once she was able to sit up in a stable manner, we switched to the IKEA high chair.
  4. Fisher Price Newborn-to-Toddler Portable RockerAnother purchase we made to use for the initial feeding of solids. We only used them for a few weeks before transitioning to high chairs. We’re still keeping them in case we can use them as toddler chairs later on.

LH4

My daughter had some feeding issues when she and her twin started solids at 5.5 months. Luckily, we found Ms. Meng Yi Yui, Clinical Director and Senior Speech and Language Therapist (SLT) who runs the TLC Speech and Feeding Clinic very early on. Early resolution of these issues meant that my Kewpie Pie now feeds well and gets the nutrition necessary for her cognitive and physical development.

Note that not all speech therapists are specialised in feeding. Feeding clinics support children with feeding issues – from fussy eaters to those with swallowing difficulties. They are usually run in hospitals by teams of different professionals including speech therapists, doctors, dietitians, occupational therapists, psychologists, and other professionals. The speech therapist will focus on the oral-motor, feeding and swallowing components. It is important that the speech therapists have related experience and have attended specialised courses in oral-motor treatment and dysphagia (swallowing).

Some common feeding issues include:

  • Gagging and coughing on textures
  • Eating only a limited variety of foods
  • Difficulty progressing from soft foods to table food
  • Requiring distraction to feed
  • Rejection of bottle or spoon
  • Difficulty with swallowing
  • Holding food in the mouth and refusing to swallow
  • Taking only limited volumes of food
  • Difficulty chewing foods and spitting

Very young babies may also experience difficulty with breastfeeding or bottling. The American Speech-Language Hearing Association provides a good overview of feeding and swallowing disorders in children. Parents can seek out a feeding clinic for any of the abovementioned issues.

Things parents can do to prevent feeding issues:

  • Watch your baby’s cues – if they reject the food, trust and help them to problem solve. Do not force feed
  • Do not feed an already sleeping baby i.e. bottling – feed only when baby is awake (parents can try to wake baby). Babies who get filled up in their sleep may not feel hungry during the day
  • When introducing weaning foods, concentrate on the experience not quantity
  • Feeding should be an interactive and bonding experience, avoid using distraction
  • Understand that babies need multiple exposure to accept new foods
  • Feeding is a multisensory experience – babies need to see, touch, smell, and taste the food. Do not worry about mess
  • Observe your baby’s oral skills, feed foods that they can manage. Gradually increase the consistency or texture as they improve
  • Teething and illness can affect baby’s appetite and intake – it is ok to fall back on familiar comfort food
  • Be aware of possible food allergies and intolerances when your baby rejects certain food

Not many people know that good feeding can actually help to promote speech development. When children acquire age-appropriate feeding skills, they also develop oral muscles that support speech development. The body is dynamic, with overlapping systems. Children with oral sensory-motor feeding disorders often (though not always) have speech issues. Sometimes, children with poor feeding skills learn to compensate with inappropriate oral habits that can affect speech development. For example, if a child uses tight lip spreading instead of protrusion to “suck”, they may perpetuate this habitual oral-facial movement and have difficulty producing labial sounds like b, p and m. Research is still emerging in support of the correlation between oral motor skills and speech.

LH2

Some simple ways to improve your child’s feeding behavior, and enhance their speech development:

Bottles and Drinking

  • Try to wean your children off milk bottles when they turn one (a general age guide). Introduce them to the cup and straw
  • Try to avoid using sippy cups and pacifiers that perpetuate tongue protrusion patterns during sucking

Oral Play and Brushing

  • Children go through oral play at about 8 months. Some will miss this period due to various reasons e.g. low muscle tone. It is important to encourage oral play with mouthing toys, fingers and toes!
  • Brushing children’s gums (before they develop teeth) and teeth encourages oral awareness and reduces oral resistance

Eating and Chewing

  • Encourage chewing (tongue lateralisation development) when your child is ready for solids. You may start with baby biscuits that melt in the mouth
  • Get your baby to bite food at the sides. This helps with chewing development
  • Do not stay on a soft, blended diet for too long. Once your child can take baby biscuits, you should gradually increase the texture
  • Avoid tilting the spoon upwards when feeding. Encourage a flat spoon to help your child use both lips for spooning (some children may not move either or both of their lips to receive the spoon)

Posture and Sitting

  • Body support for feeding is important for children with weak core muscles. Oral movement can only happen with oral stability, which is directly linked to postural stability
  • Sit face-to-face with your child to promote bonding

Feeding issues are usually multi-factoral. We need to rule out medical issues like reflux, constipation, allergy or intolerance. In addition, there are sensory hyper- or hypo-sensitivities that can affect the child’s body. Overall motor development is closely linked to a child’s oral motor skills for feeding. Behavioral issues may also develop if feeding issues are not worked on early. Parents can monitor their children’s speech and language development using milestone charts from reliable online sources.

Some signs that your child may need to see a SLT:

  • Does not smile or interact with others from birth to 3 months
  • Is not babbling at 4 to 7 months
  • Does not understand what others are saying at 7 to 12 months
  • Says only a few words at 12 to 18 months
  • Says p, b, m, h and w incorrectly in words at 1 to 2 years
  • Does not put words into phrases or sentences at 2 to 3 years

When in doubt, Yi Yui advises parents not to wait too long to seek out a SLT. A good SLT that also specialises in feeding will advise you if there is anything to worry about, and offer suggestions for preventative measures. Early intervention is key.

Li-Hsian recently left a career in corporate communications to become a full-time mum to twins. She is learning new things daily as she tries to balance the romance of motherhood with the messy realities of her latest role.

Image Credit: Li-Hsian