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Gestational diabetes and pregnancy

Written by
Fuel Your Life

There are many challenges that come with pregnancy, but one of those that is most challenging and relatively common affecting 12-14% of Australian women, is gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM).

Chances are, if you’re here reading this blog, you might be awaiting or even have experienced the infamous oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT). This test is the ultimate decider in determining whether you are diagnosed with GDM or not. Many mothers can dread this test, not only due to the fact you have to drink a very sweet drink after a night’s fast but also what those results may show. But fear no more, today we’re going to delve into what GDM is, who gets it, how it can affect you and your baby during pregnancy, and how a dietitian can help you successfully manage GDM.

What is Gestational Diabetes?

GDM is a form of diabetes that occurs only during pregnancy. This means there is too much glucose (sugar) in the blood. Excess glucose in the blood can have negative effects on both you and your baby. But the good news is successfully managing your GDM can increase your chances of having a normal delivery with no effects on your baby’s long-term health.

The Development of GDM

The food you consume is broken down by the gut into proteins, fats and carbohydrates, along with many vitamins and minerals. The carbohydrate component of these foods is made up of many small parts called glucose, and this is what we refer to as sugar. Glucose is our bodies main source of fuel, powering us with the energy to accomplish every day activates involving muscle contractions and brain function. When pregnant, glucose becomes even more important because it is needed to fuel the growth and development of your baby.

Carbohydrates are found in nearly all foods. However, carbohydrate-rich foods are typically sweet or starchy foods (see table below). During digestion, the glucose in carbohydrates is released into the blood, contributing to our overall blood glucose level. From here, this glucose needs to be transported around the body to our muscles, where it can be used for energy. The hormone insulin is responsible for moving glucose from the blood into the muscles and other organs within the body, and as glucose leaves the blood, that is how the blood glucose levels start to decrease.

Carbohydrates

The below are some of the most common sources of carbohydrates in our diet but don’t forget that all of those sweet and savoury treats also contain a LOT of extra carbohydrate as well as fats and salt.

Cereals and GrainsFruit
(fresh, canned, dried, juice)
Starchy Vegetables and LegumesDairy (but not cheese)
Flours,
Rice, Pasta
Crackers,
Bread, wraps and tortillas
Cereals,
Oats
Bananas
Apples,
Pears,
Pineapple, Watermelon
Juices (fresh or pre-packed)
Potatoes,
sweet potato,
Legumes,
Lentils,
Corn
Milk (fresh,
long life,
powdered, flavoured)
Yoghurt
Custard
Ice cream

Insulin Resistance

Unique hormonal changes during pregnancy naturally reduce the effectiveness of insulin, meaning pregnant mothers usually require 2 to 3 times more insulin than they normally would. When the effectiveness of insulin is reduced, glucose stays in the blood and cannot be transported to the muscles. This is referred to as insulin resistance. This is what is happening to mothers with GDM. Their bodies simply cannot keep up with the insulin demands and does not produce enough insulin to effectively overcome the insulin resistance. Blood glucose levels will continue to rise to unsafe levels as more food is consumed. Some women in particular struggle to produce the extra insulin and have an increased risk of developing GDM, these include those:

  • Aged over 35 years
  • Above the healthy weight range
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander or Asian decent
  • Having a family history of type 2 diabetes or high blood glucose levels
  • Using anti-psychotic or steroidal medications
  • Already had GDM or a large baby before

If you fit into any of the categories above, you could have GDM without even knowing it. Many mothers do not report any symptoms. But those who do typically notice increased thirst, increased hunger or food consumption and more frequent trips to the toilet. All of which are typical symptoms in someone with diabetes.

The Effects on Pregnancy

When blood glucose levels are uncontrolled and remain too high for too long, the glucose needs to find somewhere to go. The easiest path for this glucose is straight to your baby. Extra glucose means the baby will be getting too much fuel, resulting in too rapid growth. Bigger babies can significantly increase the chances of early delivery, with complications during birth. As a result, C-sections are very common to assist in the delivery.

Testing for Gestational Diabetes

GDM is diagnosed using the OGTT as mentioned above, and although it is challenging and requires a lot of patience it is essential to ensure the health of you and your baby. This test usually occurs around 24-28 weeks into the pregnancy, where you drink a sweet drink after an overnight fast. The pathologist will then test your blood sugar levels at certain time points. If too much glucose remains in the blood, you will be diagnosed with GDM.

Managing Gestational Diabetes

GDM can be successfully managed by monitoring blood glucose levels, and by adopting a controlled eating pattern. Upon diagnosis, you will be referred to a dietitian and diabetes educator.

If you are looking or an Accredited Practising Dietitian the team at Fuel Your Life can assist you and your GP can refer you straight to them. Fuel Your Life dietitians will always provide you with advice that is tailored to your lifestyle.

The bottom line is that GDM is a condition that can be successfully managed with a proactive approach. Fuel Your Life dietitians are here to help, so get in touch today.

Can I get a rebate for seeing a dietitian?

To find out how you might be able to claim the costs of seeing a dietitian with your health insurance speak with a member of the Care To Compare team on 1300 76 76 00.

Care To Compare can help you find a health insurance policy that covers you for what you need. When you compare and buy a policy through Care To Compare, 100% of profits are donated to charities like the Australasian Birth Trauma Association who provide a peer-led community dedicated to helping Australian and New Zealanders prevent and heal from birth-related trauma.

Teeth whitening options

“My role as a dentist is to help you achieve the smile you’ve always wanted. The best way to do that is with a treatment plant that is personally tailored to you, and works within your budget.”

Dr James Bartalotta

Teeth whitening is one of the most common cosmetic dental treatments requested by patients. Many patients don’t consult with their dentist before whitening their teeth and that can lead to less than optimal results.

What are my options for whiter teeth?

When it comes to whitening your natural teeth there are different options available.

  • In-chair whitening where your dentist will fast track the tooth whitening. This process usually takes about an hour in a single visit. Your dentist can provide you with a take-home kit to help maintain your glowing smile.
  • At-home whitening where your dentist will fit you for a kit that is custom to your teeth. This process usually takes around 7-14 days to reach.

What should I do before whitening my teeth?

Visit your dentist for an oral-health check up and discuss your teeth whitening options.

During your oral-health check up your dentist will be able to highlight any issues you may encounter during teeth whitening. Issues like untreated gum disease, untreated tooth decay and plaque build up may impact the results you want to achieve from teeth whitening.

How long will whitening last?

Great oral hygiene and regular visits with your dentist can help maintain the whitening for years. The colour of your teeth can change depending on what you put in your mouth.

When discolouration occurs a simple touch-up of your whitening can help you regain a brighter smile. Ask your dentist what solution is best for you.

What causes discoloured teeth?

Did you know that some people are born with yellowish teeth or that your teeth can yellow as they age?

The main reason your teeth change colour is the result of what you put in your mouth. Tea, coffee, red wine and smoking can all change the colour of your teeth. Even dark coloured foods like beetroot, mulberries, blackberries and cherries can also stain your teeth. Unfortunately the more you eat of these types of foods the more impact in can have on the colour of your teeth.

There are some medications that also make your teeth look yellow or stained.

Your dentist can help you identify what options to whiten your teeth will work best for you.

Is teeth whitening the right for me?

A dental examination with your dentist will help confirm what teeth whitening options are best for you.

Your dentist will let you know if there is an underlying problem that needs to be addressed before you begin teeth whitening.

Some people may have gum or tooth sensitivity which can mean that some products used in teeth whitening should be avoided.

If you have any crowns or veneers your dentist will know what options are best for you.

Some health funds may cover up teeth whitening as a dental procedure as part of your Extras Cover. Your dentist can provide you with itemised codes of your treatment. Your health fund can use these codes to let you know your level of cover and rebate that will apply.

Can I get a health insurance rebate for teeth whitening?

The team at Care To Compare can help you compare your current health insurance policy against any health fund available in Australia. You can speak with a member of the Care To Compare team on 1300 76 76 00 to find out more.

Support for new dads

“When you welcome a new baby into the world, there is so much emphasis on self care, support and love for mums (and babies). Rightly so. Mums have birthed this human being, experienced profound changes to their bodies, have had a huge shift in their sense of self and most often are primary carer to this new little human.

Unfortunately, partners slide a little under the radar and don’t always receive the care, support and attention they need and crave during this time of transition to parenthood.”

Jasmin Kostov, Let’s Sleep

Up to 1 in 10 Dads experience postnatal anxiety and depression in the first year after their baby is born. Up to 1 in 5 new Mum’s will experience postnatal anxiety and depression. Whilst the prevalence is lower for Dad’s (or so the statistics show anyway…), we know that men in general are not as likely to talk about how they are feeling and may ‘bottle up’ their emotions.

This highlights the importance of supporting partners during pregnancy and postnatally.

Providing opportunities to debrief after the birth experience they have witnessed, having support and education in those early newborn days and empowering Dad’s to build confidence and be as involved as possible are a few key factors that can REALLY help the transition to parenthood for partners.

Here are my suggestions for how to support our partners in the transition to parenthood.

Antenatal education

Knowledge is power. Getting educated about birth and beyond makes a world of difference for parents. I honestly believe that if partners can receive some education about the birthing process, how to support their partner during labour, see a birth video, understand some different scenarios that can happen during labour and birth – this can empower partners and remove some of the unknown and ‘fear’ leading up to to birth of baby.

Often this is where the education stops.

I wish that all parents had some education around caring for a newborn, sleep basics, feeding, how important self care is (and how to fit it in!) and what to expect in those first months as a parent. This knowledge can make the world of difference for partners that are supporting a new Mum and baby.

My antenatal/newborn package was designed just for that reason.

Debrief after the birth

All parents should be provided with the opportunity to debrief after the birthing process. It is a HUGE experience no matter how your birth unfolds. A partners experience of the birth of their baby is completely different from Mums. A partner witnesses the love of their life in quite immense discomfort and can feel helpless as they can’t take that pain away for them. If there is an unexpected turn in the labour such as needing an emergency caesarean, this can create some additional stress for partners and is often a completely unknown environment for them.

Debriefing with a health professional or a trusted friend or family member after the birth of baby can help partners to begin to understand what happened in the birthing process, discuss how they felt and what they saw. This simple chat can prevent those emotions from bubbling under the surface.

Get your partner involved early on

When baby is born, quite naturally the baby and mother spend majority of their time together – especially if baby is breastfeeding. Baby is feeding frequently and having lots of cuddles with Mum. In the moment, it’s not always easy to step back and reflect on how your partner is feeling and adjusting.

Providing opportunities for your partner to build his or her confidence with baby from those early days will help to strengthen and nurture that Mum, partner and baby triad. Involving your partner as much as possible is not only wonderful for their relationship with baby but also provides Mum with some time to herself (even if its just 20-30 minutes a day to begin with). Try your best to allow your partner some space alone with baby, make small suggestions if they need some help but try not to hover (after all, we all learn by trial and error!)

Some ideas for how your partner can be involved regularly from those first few days and beyond.
  • Skin to skin
  • Settling baby for a sleep while Mum has a shower/dinner
  • Offering a bottle of expressed breastmilk or formula (if breastfeeding, always express with a hand or electric pump if your baby is having a bottle, this will help to protect your breast milk supply)
  • Take baby out for an assisted nap in the pram, carrier or car
  • Change nappy and dress baby
  • Bath baby or have a shower with baby skin to skin

Words of encouragement

Those first few months with your new baby can be tiring, stressful and amazing all at the same time. Every day, I challenge all new Mum’s to reflect on something that your partner has done to support you and baby. I then would highly encourage you to share that with your partner. These small comments each day can help to build confidence for partners, make them feel appreciated, involved and needed. Positivity and kindness go a long way.

Some examples might include:
  • ’it was so great when you gave Max his bottle today and had cuddles with him afterward’
  • ‘thank you for cooking us dinner tonight’
  • ‘it was so helpful that you brought the washing in off the line today’
  • ‘Max loved having a nice warm shower with you tonight’

I hope that these suggestions resonate with you and positively impact transition to parenthood. Our partners are so important. There is something pretty special about seeing your partner with your baby and nurturing that relationship.

About the author

Jasmin Kostov is a Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Maternal & Child Health Nurse, Infant & Child Sleep Coach and the Director of Let’s Sleep.

SUPPORT FOR POSTNATAL DEPRESSION

Care To Compare is proud to support the Australasian Birth Trauma Association who provide a peer-led community dedicated to helping Australian and New Zealanders prevent and heal from birth-related trauma.

DID YOU KNOW?

Asking your private health insurer to remove pregnancy cover can reduce your monthly premiums?

What happens at a dental check-up?

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.”

Dr James Bartalotta

Regular check up and cleans can save you time, stress and money in the long run. It helps to diagnose and treat dental problems before they become more serious. A visit to your favourite dentist every 6 months is recommended for a detailed examination and thorough clean of your teeth. 

What happens at a check-up and clean or preventive maintenance visit?

A regular visit to your dentist should include:

  • An oral exam to check the your teeth, gums and tongue
  • Scale and polish
  • Fluoride rinse 
  • X-rays if necessary

How often will I need an x-ray or diagnostic test?

An examination may also include dental X-rays (bitewing radiographs) or other diagnostic procedures. X-rays are recommended to be taken every 2 years, depending on your risk status for potential oral health problems.

During the examination your dentist will check for oral cancer and soft tissue damage.

How to avoid tooth decay.

Prevention is always better than a cure. 

3 in 10 Australians aged 25-44 have untreated tooth decay and the same number either delay or avoid a visit to the dentist due to cost. (AIHW-2017)

Did you know that you can prevent tooth decay with good oral hygiene and regular check up appointments at the dentist?

When you visit the dentist routinely we can spot tooth decay in the early stages and offer treatment to prevent decay from getting worse. It’s not ideal finding yourself in a situation where you may need a root canal or extraction.

Can I get a rebate for seeing a dentist?

A great dentist should accept all private health funds. A co-payment or gap payment may be required. Private health insurance may not cover your entire dental treatment.

Some health funds may cover up to two preventive dental visits per year. Your dentist can provide you with itemised codes of your treatment. Your health fund can use these codes to let you know your level of cover and rebate that will apply.

The team at Care To Compare can help you compare your current health insurance policy against any health fund available in Australia. You can speak with a member of the Care To Compare team on 1300 76 76 00 to find out more.

Weight training for weight loss

Written by Jared Adams
Bushido Strength Hub

“Weight or fat loss is one of the most common reasons that motivates people to seek the help of a personal trainer or strength and conditioning coach. By working together we can help find a solution to achieve your goals that fits with your lifestyle “

Jared Adams, Bushido Strength Hub

Weight training or resistance training have some key benefits over a more traditional approach to weight loss with just basic activities like running, cycling and swimming.

Some might consider using the ‘energy in vs energy out’ approach where the goal is to expend more calories than you consume.

With an entry level fitness tracker and a basic understanding of calories you could monitor daily energy intake and energy out. This approach alone can make you feel stuck with a constant cycle of monitoring.

While you can modify the intensity of physical activity, monitoring energy in and out alone create times when you are running 7 days each week to make up for those extra treats during the week.

What if there was a more sustainable way of keeping the weight off? Or something that you could use in conjunction with this approach?

The great news – there is an alternative.

By training with resistance or weights you can develop more muscle. The more muscle you have, the higher your resting metabolic rate (RMR) – that’s how many calories your body requires to function at rest.

Your resting metabolic rate accounts for around 60-75% of total energy expenditure and that’s before you add any weight training sessions.

This approach can provide a more sustainable way to help you keep your weight down long term.

As you grow muscle your body needs more calories just to hit the baseline of 60-75%.

Following weight training your RMR is increased for up to 8 hours to help with nutrient uptake and restoration of the muscles used during training.

So what’s the perfect exercise plan?

Everyone will have different needs and abilities that should be considered in developing an exercise plan.

As a guide, 10 to 12 repetitions seems to be the golden range. You should aim to progress the intensity of these movements each week with increased weight, repetitions or total sets to ensure a progressive overload. This gives your muscles what they need to continue to grow and in turn, store more energy.

This is not to say this is the best way to approach your weight loss, simply that weight training can very well be complimented with a traditional approach for additional cardiovascular health or simply some active recovery 

Need help to create your perfect exercise plan?

If you’d like to work with Jared or the Bushido Strength Hub team connect with them on Instagram or Facebook.

Did you know that some health funds offer rebates for personal training to support healthy lifestyles?

To find out how you might be able to claim the costs of personal training or gym memberships with your health insurance speak with a member of the Care To Compare team on 1300 76 76 00.

Top 5 myths about osteoarthritis

“If somebody says they have arthritis they are most likely talking about osteoarthritis. If you are struggling with arthritis or joint pain see your health professional to discuss some treatment strategies suitable for your situation.”

Dr Matt Corbin, Osteopath, Six Core Outcomes

Fun fact: There is more arthritis today than there has ever been and we have never been more sedentary. Perhaps it’s time we stop calling it wear and tear?

Here are the top 5 myths about osteoarthritis.

1. Scans

Scans can not and do not predict your level of pain or disability regardless of how severe the arthritis may appear on an image.

2. rest

Rest or avoiding activities completely can actually make pain worse in the long run.

3. exercise

Exercise is not dangerous. Safe, graded exposure to painful activities can actually help reduce pain by improving your strength, capacity and tolerance.

4. Surgery

Surgery is not the only answer. In fact 20% of people who undergo joint replacements don’t achieve pain relief. Surgery is suggested for people who have undergone thorough non-surgical management unsuccessfully.

5. Pain

Pain does not reflect the amount of damage. Much like on a scan, the amount of damage does not reflect the level of pain. They do not always correlate.

Do I need private health insurance to see an osteo, physio or Chiro?

No. All practitioners can see both private and public patients.

Your health insurance can provide you with rebates when you visit an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor. Check with your health fund what benefits are available.

Interested in Working with an osteopath?

Book an appointment with Dr Matt Corbin at Six Core Outcomes or find your local Osteopath.

What’s the difference between an Osteo, Physio and Chiro?

“The assumption is that the professions are all very different, with various techniques & skill sets. Whilst some subtle differences may exist, the truth is that we are more alike than some (clinicians) might like to admit!”

Dr Matt Corbin, Osteopath, Six Core Outcomes

If you’ve ever wondered what the difference between an Osteopath, Physiotherapist and a Chiropractor is – you are not alone! It can be a confusing discussion within the healthcare system so I can only imagine how confusing it can be for patients just looking for help.

Education & Qualifications

Each profession is registered and regulated by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA).

Each profession is accredited after completing 4-5 years of education at university.

Each profession consists of a mixture of hands-on treatment and rehabilitative exercise designed to help those in pain.

what’s the difference?

It’s important to note that ‘Osteo’, ‘Physio’ & ‘Chiro’ are professions – They’re not treatments or treatment styles. Each is qualified to provide diagnosis, management and prevention of musculoskeletal conditions. 

In the modern age of evidence-based medicine you’ll start noticing that the best practitioners will all practice in a very similar way. The secret is out – Gone are the days where a 5-10 minute appointment for an “adjustment” is considered optimal health care.

Dr Matt Corbin (Osteopath) at Six Core Outcomes using manual therapy for patient.

The real difference comes between practitioners, not professions. 

The best practitioners get you moving.

The best practitioners build confidence, not fear.

The best practitioners get you off the table, and back to the activities you love.

Avoid somebody who spends the majority of time doing things to you, find yourself a practitioner who empowers you with self-care strategies to look after your own body. 

How do you choose the right osteo, Physio or Chiro?

Choose the person, not the profession. To help find your next Osteopath, Physiotherapist or Chiropractor use this checklist to help guide your decision.

Find a practitioner who:

  • Seems genuine, empathetic and understanding
  • Educates, empowers and builds confidence 
  • Works with you to find the right management plan suited to your goals
  • Promotes self-care strategies alongside hands-on treatments
  • Encourages you to ask questions during your appointment.

Do I need private health insurance to see an osteo, physio or Chiro?

No. All practitioners can see both private and public patients.

Your health insurance can provide you with rebates when you visit an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor. Check with your health fund what benefits are available.

Interested in Working with an osteopath?

Book an appointment with Dr Matt Corbin at Six Core Outcomes or find your local Osteopath.

What mental health treatment is covered by Medicare and private health insurance?

Written by Care To Compare

Australians are becoming more aware of their own mental health needs and the needs of their family and friends. A great range of support services are available with or without private health insurance.

If you or someone you know lives with a mental illness a Medicare rebate to cover part of the cost of your appointments with a psychologist might be available.

Does private health insurance cover mental health?

Private health insurance can provide additional support in addition to the rebates you are entitled to from Medicare. It can help you with:

  • In-patient or Psychiatric care generally covers treatment in a private hospital. A Gold level of hospital cover is required for this, there may be a two-month waiting period, but you may be eligible to have this waived.
  • Out-patient or Mental Health care generally covers psychological therapy when or if you are no longer eligible to claim this service with Medicare.

If you need some help to figure out the best health insurance with psychology benefits or psychiatric services please contact our team on 1300 76 76 00.

What is the mental health waiver?

The mental health waiver enables a person with limited hospital cover to upgrade their level of cover so they can access in-hospital psychiatric services without needing to serve the usual 2 month waiting period. Currently, this exemption can only be accessed by each person once in their lifetime.

Generally, you must have served an initial two month waiting period for any psychiatric benefits. Ask our team or your health insurer for the specific details that apply to your cover.

IS THERE SUPPORT AVAILABLE WITH MEDICARE?

When you speak to your preferred doctor they can help coordinate the treatment of mild mental health issues by providing practical advice, referring you to a psychologist or prescribing medication. They may refer you to a psychiatrist. Your doctor may develop a Mental Health Treatment Plan specifically for you. This can provide up to 10 sessions with a mental health specialist subsidised by Medicare. This initiative is known as Better Access.

What public support is available?

ReachOut.com provides free online mental health services for young people and their parents in Australia.

If you or someone you know needs help please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14.

DID YOU KNOW?

If you or someone you know lives with a mental illness, a Medicare rebate to cover part of the cost of your appointments with a psychologist might be available.

Care To Compare proudly supports ReachOut.Com

10 tips to help your newborn baby sleep

“Each child and each family is different. Simple, holistic and family centred sleep solutions can provide positive and significant changes in the lives of families.”

Jasmin Kostov, Let’s Sleep

The newborn period is from birth right through to 3 months of age. Arguably, this is one of the biggest periods of adjustment for parents whether it’s your first child or not. You might be surprised to learn that there is plenty you can do in that newborn period to set up great healthy sleep habits.

Read my top 10 tips below to help your newborn sleep as well as possible in the first 12 weeks.

1. Awake windows

When a newborn is overtired they are much more challenging to settle off to sleep. Having a rough idea of how long your baby should be awake before having another sleep is so important. This single piece of knowledge can make for a much easier first 12 weeks. Sadly, most parents are not informed about awake windows. I wish all parents were provided with this knowledge immediately after having their baby. This knowledge can make the difference between your baby fighting sleep or going off to sleep quite easily. Look for your baby’s tired signs and and offer them sleep when you see these signs.

  • Birth – 3 weeks: 40-60 minutes
  • 4 – 7 weeks: 60-90 minutes
  • 8 – 12 weeks: 75-105 minutes

2. Darkness

From 3 weeks of age or earlier if you wish, I recommend offering your baby their day naps and night time sleep in a very dark room. Before 3 weeks of age babies are naturally quite sleepy and don’t seem to phased by darkness or light for sleep. After 3 weeks of age your baby will start to ‘awaken’. The production and secretion of melatonin (the sleepy hormone) is blocked by light and therefore, providing a dark sleep environment works with your baby’s natural hormones to help promote sleep.

A dark room will help your baby settle off to sleep and connect their sleep cycles much easier plus will prevent them waking up early in the morning when the sun comes up. When they’re napping on the go in the car, carrier or pram – don’t stress about a dark environment!

3. Swaddle

From birth right through to 4 months or when showing signs of rolling, I recommend swaddling your baby for all day sleep and night sleep. You can use a muslin/jersey wrap, love to dream, ergo bag or something similar. There are a few reasons for this recommendation.

Your baby has the Moro Reflex (otherwise know as the ‘startle reflex’) that is present until it starts to fade around 3 months and is generally gone by 5-6 months at the latest. Swaddling helps prevent your baby ‘startling’ themselves awake during sleep.

Your baby is used to a cozy, comfy space in your tummy and would have had limited space in their to move around at the end of pregnancy. Swaddling recreates this womb like environment.

Swaddling for every nap and night sleep is a positive sleep association and each time you swaddle them, they will start to associate this with sleep

4. Rough routine from 6-8 weeks of age

I regularly receive questions on what age is the right time to introduce a routine. Around 6- 8 weeks of age your baby will start to develop natural circadian rhythms and their biological clock becomes more established. Food, light and social interaction all entrain or set your baby’s biological clock. For these reasons, 6-8 weeks is a great time to start a loose routine to follow each day. This might include:

  • the same wake up time each day of 7am
  • aiming for 3-5 naps across the day and a bed time of between 6-7.30pm after a nice warm bath and massage.
  • rough times for feeds (3-4 hourly) and fit these in around your babies nap times.

5. Offer your baby sleep in their bassinet from the beginning

You might have heard the saying, start as you intend to finish. If your goal is for your baby to be sleeping in their bassinet or cot for all sleep in a few months time – then it is never too early to get started. In those first 12 weeks you might find your baby sleeps really well in their bassinet or cot for naps and night sleep (yay for you!).

If your baby isn’t as content in their own bed, just start off with settling them for 1 day nap in their cot or bassinet per day. This will help them slowly get used to their sleep environment and before long, it will be totally normal for them. Don’t stress if your baby is enjoying sleeps in the pram, car, carrier, your chest and anywhere other than their bed. This is quite normal and you can work on encouraging them to sleep in their own bed as they get past 3-4 months of age.

6. Upright time and burping during and after feeds

Offering your baby upright time during and after feeds can help aid digestion and alleviate unsettledness due to wind pain. As the day progresses, trapped wind and gut discomfort can worsen simply due to an accumulation of wind. This can play in to that unsettledness in the late afternoon/early evening that is common for babies from birth to 12 weeks of age.

Offer your baby upright time a couple of times during the feed and some back patting/gentle motion side to side and forward and back. Repeat this at the end of the feed and have an upright cuddle for 5-10 minutes after each feed to allow the milk to settle in their tummy before being laid down horizontal. Don’t stress about getting a set number of burps! Just offer them the upright time, some pats on the back and motion.

7. Combination feed option

You may have heard of the ‘witching hour’ or ‘cluster feeding’ in the late afternoon and early evening that is common for newborns. Babies will often feed on and off during this time of day and naturally this can be quite tiring for Mum. An option here for breastfed babies is to introduce ‘combination feeding’. There is a big push currently to ‘exclusively breastfeed’ and whilst I understand the benefits of breastfeeding, I believe parental wellbeing is equally as important. If you’re finding you’re exhausted by the end of the day and your baby is unsettled, there is a possibility this is due to hunger. Breast milk supply naturally is lower in the later part of the day and therefore baby can become a little frustrated and continue feeding on and off as a result.

An option here is to offer a small bottle top up in the evening to ensure your baby has a nice full tummy and therefore will likely settle for sleep a little easier. You can consider offering a small bottle top up from early on (2 weeks onwards). IF your baby has been breastfeeding well, weight gain is not an issue and you’re connected with a lactation consultant or maternal and child health nurse who has been supporting you with breastfeeding. Offering 1 bottle each day from an early age helps your baby get used to taking a bottle, allows flexibility if you need a little break or aren’t able to be with your baby for some reason and my favourite part – partners can give this bottle to baby and be involved in the feeding process. Win-Win.

This bottle could be expressed breast milk or formula depending on what you are comfortable with. If you are going to offer a bottle to your baby, ALWAYS express with a hand or electric pump whilst your baby has the bottle to signal to your body that it needs to create some additional milk. This protects your milk supply and is crucial for combination feeding to be effective.

8. Use a consistent nap time and bed time wind down routine

From birth you can start using a consistent nap wind down routine thats 2-5 minutes long and a bedtime wind down routine thats 10-20 minutes long before you put them down in their bassinet or cot for sleep. This consistent wind down routine will help signal to your baby that sleep is coming.

  • Nap wind down example: When you see tired signs, head into your baby’s room, change nappy, darken room, hum or sing a quiet song, into swaddle and settle for sleep in their bassinet/cot.
  • Bedtime wind down example: 10-20 minutes before bedtime, head into your baby’s room, change their nappy, offer a feed, read a quiet story or sing a quiet song, darken room, into swaddle and settle for sleep in their bassinet/cot.

9. Massage and skin to skin

Massage and skin to skin are both amazing for bonding and relaxation in the first 12 weeks and beyond. Massage can be a great addition to your baby’s bedtime routine. Here’s a great resource for how to get started with baby massage! You can use a natural oil such as olive, avocado, macadamia or coconut oil. Skin to skin helps to stabilise body temperature, regulate blood sugar, establish breastfeeding, reduce crying and pain, boost parent child bonding and basically just gives you all the warm fuzzies!

10. Parental self care

I know it may seem like a total stretch to think you’d prioritise yourself in those first 12 weeks, however i’m here to tell you that it’s so important! Be kind to yourself, seek support, speak with health care providers (MCHN, LC’s, GP’s, breastfeeding help lines), keep open communication with your partner, family, friends. Laughing, crying, waves of emotion, frustration, sadness and feelings of elation are all SO normal when adjusting to have a little person in your life. The challenging times will come and go and the good times will come again. It’s a marathon, not a sprint and therefore prioritising self care from early on will help prevent you from feeling burnt out.

Start small in those early days. Even a 5-10 minute shower all to yourself whilst your partner watches over the baby (you could be a real dare devil and put on a face mask too!). Within a couple of weeks you might feel okay to get out for a walk on your own for 20-30 minutes or go meet a friend for a coffee for an hour. Those pockets of self care over the weeks and months evolve into being the time that you have to fit in what fuels you and makes you feel good (exercise, hobbies, socialising – whatever it is). That’s not to say that being with your baby doesn’t make you feel good – it’s just so key to have a little time out just for you as well.

About the author

Jasmin Kostov is a Registered Midwife, Registered Nurse, Maternal & Child Health Nurse, Infant & Child Sleep Coach and the Director of Let’s Sleep.

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What’s the difference between a dietitian and nutritionist?

Written by
Fuel Your Life

“Dietitians take the guess work out of nutrition. They can not only speed up your progress, but help you achieve things you didn’t think possible.”

Tyson Tripcony, Fuel Your Life

We’re often asked about the difference between dietitians and nutritionists. We get that it can be confusing.

Did you know? A dietitian can work as a nutritionist but a nutritionist can’t call themselves a dietitian without extra qualifications?

Education

Dietitian’s are accredited after completing 4-5 years education at university.

Nutritionists may have limited education or no university qualifications. There is no current regulation over the industry.

Registration

Dietitians must be registered by the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency before they can consult in private practice or clinical settings.

Nutritionists can register with the Nutrition Society of Australia and/or the Dietitians Association of Australia. There is no legal requirement to register with either.

Work

Dietitians can provide medical nutrition therapy to their clients and can also work as a nutritionist.

Nutritionists cannot provide medical nutrition therapy nor can they work as a dietitian without extra qualifications.

Rebates

Dietitians are recognised as the only food and nutrition specialist by Medicare, private health insurance funds, NDIS and other organisations.

Nutritionists are not recognised by Medicare and cannot offer rebates through private health insurance funds.

If you’d like to work with a dietitian or nutritionist to help achieve your goals please get in touch with the Fuel Your Life team.

Can I get a rebate for seeing a dietitian?

To find out how you might be able to claim the costs of seeing a dietitian with your health insurance speak with a member of the Care To Compare team on 1300 76 76 00.