Make Bathtime Less Stressful with a Swaddle Bath

Swaddle bathing is bathing your baby while swaddled in a blanket and immersed into water except for your baby’s head and neck. The History of Swaddle Bathing When babies are stressed, scared, or upset they give us certain cues about how unhappy they are. These clues include arching their back, crying, stretching out their arms and legs, extending their fingers, and blinking their eyes. This stress can be harmful for the sickest of babies, those born prematurely or with other conditions requiring them to be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We know that when babies are stressed, such The post Make Bathtime Less Stressful with a Swaddle Bath appeared first on The Pulse.

Make Bathtime Less Stressful with a Swaddle Bath

Swaddle bathing is bathing your baby while swaddled in a blanket and immersed into water except for your baby’s head and neck.

The History of Swaddle Bathing

When babies are stressed, scared, or upset they give us certain cues about how unhappy they are. These clues include arching their back, crying, stretching out their arms and legs, extending their fingers, and blinking their eyes. This stress can be harmful for the sickest of babies, those born prematurely or with other conditions requiring them to be in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). We know that when babies are stressed, such as during medical procedures or baths, their blood sugar, breathing rates, and body temperature all become unstable.

Researchers, doctors and nurses wanted to find ways to make bath time safer and less stressful for babies in the NICU. These bath-time innovators  pioneered the concept of swaddle bathing. Today many NICUs and nurseries in hospitals around the country and world use swaddle baths as the standard of care because it is so beneficial for premature and sick infants.

What Are the Benefits of Swaddle Bathing?

Many NICUs and hospital nurseries use swaddle baths because it makes bath time so much less stressful for both babies and parents. Some of the observed benefits of swaddle baths in NICUs are that:

  • Babies cry less
  • Babies can better conserve energy
  • Blood sugar levels stay more stable
  • Babies stay warner
  • Decreased number of startle reflexes
  • Faster bathing times
  • Babies (and parents) look away less during bathing, so better bonding
  • More parents of NICU babies participated in swaddle baths compared to parent participation in routine sponge baths according to research findings.
  • Babies only have to be bathed every four days with swaddle baths (normally babies are bathed daily in the NICU to reduce the risk of infection).

Steps For a Safe Swaddle Bath

You can also help make bathtime cuddly and soothing for your baby by adopting the same swaddle bathing techniques used in NICUs if you follow these steps:

  1. Gather all your supplies near your bath area ahead of time:
  • Baby bathtub. Some post-C-section moms recommend bathing in the sink for the first few weeks to avoid the pain of having to bend over.
  • Swaddle blanket
  • Cup for pouring rinsing water
  • Soap or shampoo
  • Wash cloth (1-2)
  • Skin lotion
  • Diaper cream
  • Infant hair brush or comb
  • Clean Diaper
  • Change of clothes
  1. Fill your bathtub or sink with warm, not hot water and test with the inside of your arm. Fill the basin or sink with at least 2 inches of water or enough to cover up to their shoulders. This will help keep Baby warm and calm.
  2. Take off your baby’s clothing. Following swaddling blanket folding technique, first fold over the bottom to tuck in their feet.
  3. Slowly ease them into the water. Talk or sing to your baby in a calm and reassuring voice to help soothe them.
  4. Support your baby at all times, always keeping one hand on them.
  5. Wash your baby’s face first, with water only. Wipe each eyelid, from the inside to the outside corner, using a different part of the washcloth for each eye to avoid an eye infection.
  6. Next, unwrap one arm at a time for cleaning, leaving the rest swaddled to help conserve heat and comfort Baby.
  7. After washing both arms, wash your baby’s chest.
  8. Continue the swaddle bath process with the legs, unwrapping, washing, and re-covering each leg.
  9. Pull down and unfold  the  bottom section of swaddle wrap, while keeping arms and legs covered, to wash Baby’s belly.
  10. With a separate washcloth, gently wash between your baby’s legs and genitals, being careful to wash in creases and folds. Wash their bottom and genitals last. If your son hasn’t been circumcised, don’t try to push back the foreskin. Put this washcloth off to the side when finished.
  11. To keep your baby warm, you can pour warm water over his or her body throughout the bath.
  12. Sit Baby up, supporting them with your hands and squirt soapy water directly onto the baby’s back, using the swaddle as the washcloth to wash your baby’s back. Use the pouring cup to rinse away any excess soap.
  13. Not all babies have hair or need to have their hair washed with every bath. If you are washing your baby’s head, make sure to save this for the last part of the bath. This helps to keep Baby warm and if they happen to poop in the bath, requiring a bath water change, your baby won’t get chilled with a wet head. Pour water slowly over your baby’s head with the pouring cup, add a little squirt of shampoo or soap, and rub to get a lather.  Carefully cup your hand above your baby’s eyebrows when rinsing so no soap gets in their eyes.
  14. Unwrap the wet swaddle bath blanket, lift them carefully out of the tub, and towel them off as quickly as possible so that they don’t become chilled.

Quick Tips for A Low-Stress Infant Swaddle Bath

  • Until your baby’s umbilical cord falls off (usually after 1-2 weeks), you should give your baby sponge baths. Avoid submerging their umbilical area underwater. To prevent infection before it has fully healed.
  • Newborns only need to be bathed once a week, up until 3 months old. From 3-6 months of age, you can bath your baby 2-3 times a week.
  • NEVER leave your baby alone in the tub.
  • Polyester fleece swaddle blankets work better than cotton blankets for swaddle baths because they absorb less water. This means that they don’t become as heavy and do a better job of keeping your little one toasty warm for the whole bath.
  • Swaddle bath advocates recommend a larger-sized swaddle blanket, so that you can use the corners and extra fabric to help you clean and wash.
  • Bathwater should be between 99.9 and 103.9 degrees Fahrenheit, or comfortably warm — not hot. The water should feel comfortable to the inside of your arm.
  • Keep bathtime quick- the bath should only last 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Support your baby throughout the bath.
  • Wait at least 24 hours after circumcision to give your baby boy an immersion bath.

It’s Tubby Time, Bring Your Swaddle Blanket

Regardless of whether or not your baby was in the NICU or born prematurely, they will still love a comforting swaddle bath. Help your baby relax and enjoy a swaddle bath time ritual with less stress and crying for both you and your baby!

The post Make Bathtime Less Stressful with a Swaddle Bath appeared first on The Pulse.

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How to Reduce Your Risk of Blocked Ducts and Mastitis

A blocked milk duct can be painful. It can lead to a more painful and more serious condition called mastitis. Most women never experience a blocked duct or mastitis. Some women develop blocked ducts or mastitis more than once. If you are breastfeeding, you can’t completely eliminate the risk of developing a blocked duct or developing mastitis, but there are ways to reduce your risk that. Blocked Duct or Mastitis? A blocked or clogged milk duct is pretty much what it sounds like. The milk ducts are the tiny tubes that bring breast milk from the glandular lobules in your The post How to Reduce Your Risk of Blocked Ducts and Mastitis appeared first on The Pulse.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Blocked Ducts and Mastitis

A blocked milk duct can be painful. It can lead to a more painful and more serious condition called mastitis. Most women never experience a blocked duct or mastitis. Some women develop blocked ducts or mastitis more than once.

If you are breastfeeding, you can’t completely eliminate the risk of developing a blocked duct or developing mastitis, but there are ways to reduce your risk that.

Blocked Duct or Mastitis?

A blocked or clogged milk duct is pretty much what it sounds like. The milk ducts are the tiny tubes that bring breast milk from the glandular lobules in your breast—where the milk is made—to the nipple, where your baby feeds. If these ducts become blocked for any reason, the lobules keep producing milk that has nowhere to go. The milk starts to back up and that backed up milk swells the lobule and causes pressure in that section of your breast that can be uncomfortable.

A milk duct can become blocked for any number of reasons. If your baby does not completely empty your breasts of milk during a feeding for a couple of days, the milk in your breast can thicken a bit. Other causes of a blocked duct include wearing a bra that is too tight or carrying your baby in a carrier that has straps that cross your breasts. Your breasts might become too full when your baby starts to sleep through the night, lengthening the time between feedings. Or you might need to skip a feeding for some reason. It can also happen when you are weaning your baby from breastfeeding.

Stress can also cause blocked ducts.

Mastitis is an inflammation or infection of the glands in your breast that make breast milk. In addition to a blocked duct, mastitis can also be caused by an infection that gets into the breast through a cracked nipple or a scratch on the skin. Mastitis occurs in about 10 percent of all breastfeeding women and can lead mothers to stop breastfeeding.

Mastitis is more severe than a blocked duct. The pain and inflammation from one or more seriously blocked ducts can cause mastitis, but mastitis can happen without any blocked ducts. In other words, not all blocked ducts lead to mastitis and not all cases of mastitis are caused by blocked ducts.

An infection to the breast can enter the breast through a crack in the nipple or a scratch on the skin. The backed-up milk in the breast becomes a focal point for the infection. In the most serious situation, you may develop an abscess, which is a pocket of localized infection that can feel like a very tender lump in the breast. Abscessed often contain pus, which may drain from the nipple.

The symptoms of mastitis can include the breast becoming swollen or red. Your breast or just an area of it  may become hot to the touch. You may also develop a fever and a general feeling of being ill, like you have the flu.

If you develop a hot, sore area in your breast and have a fever that lasts more than a day, call your healthcare provider. Your healthcare provider may prescribe antibiotics for you. With most antibiotics, you can keep breastfeeding, which is the best treatment for mastitis since it helps relieve pressure in the breast but ask your provider for specific instructions.

Even with mastitis, you should keep breastfeeding your baby from both your breasts. The milk supply in the affected breast may not be as ample but keep breastfeeding unless your healthcare provider specifically tells you to stop.

Prevention

You can reduce your risk of mastitis by making sure that your baby is feeding from both of your breasts in the most effective way. Make sure your baby feeds equally from both your breasts and that they are as emptied as possible.

Take care of your nipples. Keep them clean and try to keep them from drying out and cracking. Breast milk is actually a good treatment for cracked nipples. Express some milk and drip it onto the nipple and let it dry there. Avoid using any harsh soaps on your nipples.

To help prevent a blocked duct, if your breasts become over full, you should express your milk, either by hand or with a pump. If you have a blocked duct, try to have your baby feed frequently from that breast. Sometimes changing the position of the baby during feeding can help the baby feed more effectively and unblock the duct.

You can also gently massage your breast if you think a blockage is developing. Getting the milk flowing through that duct again is the best way to solve the problem and prevent greater pain or prevent the development of mastitis.

One last note, mastitis can occur in women who are not breastfeeding. It can happen to women who are postmenopausal because of hormonal changes in the body.  In rare cases, mastitis can even happen in men. In these cases, the milk ducts are blocked by dead skin cells.

If you develop a blocked duct more than once, you can seek the advice of a lactation consultant. A lactation consultant can give you instructions on ways to position the baby during breastfeeding and give you advice on cracked nipples.

The post How to Reduce Your Risk of Blocked Ducts and Mastitis appeared first on The Pulse.

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