A Physician Explains How You Can Have a Safe and Happy Vacation with the Kids


Consultant Emergency Physician
Sunway Medical Centre

Make sure that you have at hand essentials such as the following:

  • Paracetamol for fever or pain
  • Oral rehydration solution for dehydration due to diarrhoea
  • Cough and cold medications
  • Inhalers if your children have asthma
  • Antiseptic wipes
  • Band-aids, adhesive tapes, and gauze for wound care
  • Thermometer
  • Your child’s existing medications, if any

“I would also advise to bring some topical medication such as antiseptic cream, mentholated or medicated topical ointment – anything you’re used to, from home,” Dr Nur Elayni Borhan adds. “You know your own children, so bring the things that you know would benefit them. Try to avoid bringing things that are new to them.”


Diarrhoea and vomiting are among the most common illnesses that affect children while they are on holiday.

Dr Elayni advises parents to ensure that their children are taught to follow safe food and water precautions.

Her other tips are:

  • Frequently wash hands to prevent foodborne and waterborne illnesses.
  • If you are breastfeeding your child, continue to breastfeed during the vacation.
  • Make sure that vaccinations for the whole family are up to date, as there is generally a higher risk for most vaccine-preventable diseases when travelling.

If your child—or any other family member—develops diarrhoea, Dr Elayni recommends consuming plenty of fluids.

Oral rehydration solution may be used to prevent dehydration, especially if the child is also vomiting,” she further adds. “If your child appears to be dehydrated and/or has a fever or bloody stools, seek medical attention immediately.”


Dr Elayni says, “Planning ahead is the key to making your trip safe and enjoyable.”

  • Always stay alert, take every necessary precaution, and carry all essential medications.
  • Bring a medical kit with your child’s medications, including their epinephrine pen. Do this no matter how near or short the trip is.
  • Not everyone can understand English or Bahasa Melayu, so get information about your child’s allergy translated to the native language of your destination. Written information about your child’s allergies, for example, can be very useful when ordering food for your child.
  • Take note of the allergy policies of the airline and at the hotels you will be staying at. Every airline or hotel is different, and they need advance notice to make accommodations.
  • Research restaurants or grocery stores at your destination that would carry products safe for your child.
If your child suffers from motion sickness:
  • Keep them hydrated.
  • Let them eat and drink in small amounts regularly instead of having heavy meals.
  • Avoid letting them read or us screen devices while traveling in a vehicle. Instead, encourage them to sleep or engage in conversations with other family members.
If your child experiences uncomfortable pressure in the ear:
  • Encourage them to swallow their saliva. Younger children can breastfeed or suck on a thumb while older children can suck on lozenges or chew gum to equalize the pressure,

General tips for a fun and safe vacation:

  • Bring along your child’s comfort toy or blankie.
  • If your child has an existing chronic condition, consult a doctor before traveling to destinations with different climates and altitudes. You may need to take special precautions, such as dressing your child appropriately for colder destinations and apply sunscreen at hotter destinations.
  • Discourage your children from swimming in non-chlorinated bodies of water (rivers, ponds, lakes, etc), as there is a risk of your child swallowing contaminated water.
  • Pack safe snacks and meals in case there are no appropriate restaurants for your child.
  • Identify important healthcare facilities at your destination. You can also seek advice on available local medical services from hotels or tour company representatives.
  • Include your child in any travel insurance policies bought for the trip, which should include medical repatriation if necessary.

A Dad Talks About Peer Pressure and How to Help Your Kids Deal with It


Fitness Coach

When I was 13, I left home for a boarding school. It became my ‘new home’ 85 days a year.

Like most boarding schools, there were a few seniors as well as juniors that would smuggle in cigarettes as well as drugs such as weed. These would be indulged in the washroom, after dinner. The housekeeper was fond of his own drinks and cigarettes—his office smelled of cigarettes all the time—so most of us assumed that he wouldn’t detect the smell of weed in the washroom!

These rebels were seen as the ‘cool kids’, and if one wanted to be a part of the cool clique, one needed to jump through hoops and conform to the clique’s often arbitrary rules and requirements.

Then, there was the ‘fun’ time, such as the birthday of someone that most people disliked. A group would surround this person and contribute a hammer fist—you put your hands together in a fist and swing at the person like you’re swinging an axe.

Likewise, a senior had the ‘privilege’ of setting up a junior to get into trouble, and the rest would pile on that poor junior.

No one wants to be the target of such bullying, so most would try to get on the good side of the ringleaders. This means playing by the rules set up by the ringleaders.

Then there were the richer students that would show up in branded clothes. New shoes every semester. They became the trendsetters and leaders of their own cool cliques, and everyone else either tried to match them or be looked down upon as inferiors.

Peer pressure was everywhere during my school days. To be popular, to fit in, and to belong; being an outsider could subject one to serious bullying and experience the negative psychological effects caused by such bullying.


I wasn’t cool enough to join any of the groups—too poor for the rich kids, too smart for the jocks, too much of a jock for the nerds, and too dorky for the cool crowd.

I was always the odd one out, along with a close friend whom I’m still in touch with today.

However, I avoided getting into much trouble by following house rules to the dot. This came with its own perks: I was chosen as house disciplinarian during my senior year, and this gave me certain house benefits that kept away those that wanted to harass me.

I also happened to stumble into the school gym. The equipment was rusty and the whole place wasn’t in the best of shape, but it became my sanctuary and safe space I started working out, and from there I discovered a whole new world of fitness options to enjoy. I started lifting weights, taking part in sports, and more.

Let’s just say that not many kids wanted to pick on the student that knew martial arts, could outrun them, and looked tougher than most of them!

Always be present for your children

This is much easier nowadays with social media, WhatsApp, FaceTime, and more.

When you have built a close rapport with your child, they will feel more confidence to confide in you on issues such as bullying, loneliness, relationship issues, and more. Having your support will allow them to better deal with these issues.

Also, when you are aware of your child’s mental issues, you are in a good place to encourage them to seek the help of a counsellor or other mental health professionals should the need arise.

Encourage your child to participate in sports and other social activities

These activities help to build confidence, improve their relationships with other people, promote team spirit, and develop other skills that can’t be learned from just schoolbooks.

Such activities will also allow your child to identify their passions and talents.

Spend time to do things with your kid

I know, some parents may find it awkward to do things with their kids, but taking time to do this helps to strengthen your bond with your kid and build a close relationship that is based on trust and love.

This kind of bond will build your child’s confidence, as they have the assurance that their parents will always be there to support and love them even through their most trying times.

Furthermore, such a bond can last for a lifetime and keep your family together through thick and thin in the coming years.

Let your kid have fun

They may not always meet your expectations. Sometimes, they stumble and fail.

Whether your kid does well or not, their experiences with success as well as failures will contribute to their learning experience and character development.

Hence, don’t discourage your kid when they fail. We all have to learn to lose before we learn to win!

Teach your kid to be themselves

Teach them to cherish values, character and effort, not material objects.

After all, no one would remember the shoes you wore in high school. Instead, people will remember your character and efforts.

Experts Highlight 2 Lesser-Known Breastfeeding Issues & How to Overcome Them



Senior Lecturer in Emergency Medicine
School of Medicine
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Taylor’s University
Senior Lecturer in Family Medicine
School of Medicine
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
Taylor’s University
Lesser-Known Breastfeeding Issue 1
  • This describes a sudden, intense, onset of negative emotions, just before a ‘let down’ or the release of milk occurs.
  • It is estimated that 5% to 9% of breastfeeding mothers experience this at some point.
  • It can take place during direct feeding, expressing of milk, or whenever let down occurs—for example in response to a crying child.
  • Not much is known as to why D-MER occurs, but it could be due to a sudden drop in the level of dopamine or ‘happy hormones’ in the brain. What could have happened is that the suckling action during direct feed or mimicked by a breast pump secretes the hormone oxytocin, which stimulates milk production and release. Studies have shown that it also inhibits dopamine release.
  • Symptoms last only for a few minutes and disappear when the milk flow is established.
  • Most women who have experienced D-MER reports decreased frequency after the first 3 months, although it can persist as long as the mother breastfeeds or pumps her breast milk.
  • Sudden anxiety and irritability.
  • Sadness or hopelessness.
  • Anger.
  • Self-hate or low self-esteem.
  • Asinking feeling in the stomach or dread.
  • In some cases, the symptoms can be severe, such as suicidal ideation.
Lesser-Known Breastfeeding Issue 2
  • This describes a feeling of aversion (strong dislike or wanting to stop) while breastfeeding, which occurs the entire time the child is latched on to the mother’s breast. This can result in the mother developing a compulsion to unlatch.
  • Currently, there isn’t much research done into this matter.
  • An empirical study done in Australia concluded that BAR is unexpected and difficult for mothers. It may result in detrimental effects on maternal identity, mother-child bonds, and intimate family relationships. Some of the participants in this study described the experience as ‘skin crawling’ while others reported negative sensations that were ‘visceral’, ‘overwhelming’ and ‘uncontrollable’.
  • As of now, there has been no research done to study the prevalence of BAR among Malaysian women. We can only speculate whether BAR may be a key factor for the low rate of exclusive breastfeeding.
  • Breastfeeding for the first time.
  • Breastfeeding 2 or more children at the same time.
  • Menstruation.
  • Breastfeeding during pregnancy.
  1. Recognizing these conditions is an important first step.
  2. Experts recommend self-help strategies such as meditation, positive self-talk, and personal distraction (listening to music, etc) during the feeding or pumping sessions to better manage the negative emotions associated with these conditions. These little actions can help increase the mother’s levels of happy hormones.
  3. Don’t face these challenges alone. Talk about these negative emotions with your partner and loved ones and seek help from healthcare professionals such as lactation consultants, counsellors, or therapists.

Introducing Spring Sheep New Zealand Gentle Sheep Step 3 Toddler Milk


Gentle Sheep Premium Sheep Milk Toddler Formula is specially formulated by experts for 1-3 year olds whose regular diet may benefit from supplementation.

Specially formulated by experts

Milk from New Zealand grass-fed sheep

Made under strictest food safety and quality protocols

Ethically and responsibly sourced

No GMOs, antibiotics, or artificial growth hormones (use of artificial growth hormones is illegal in New Zealand)

 No artificial colours or flavours

No added table sugar (sucrose)

BPA free packaging with hygienic scoop in lid

 A clean, creamy taste that kids love!

Most parents are familiar with cow’s milk and goat milk for their toddlers, but how about sheep milk? Well, sheep milk is loaded with its own unique benefits for a growing-up child’s growth and development.


✓Up to 60% more protein and calcium than milk from goats and cows.1

✓Higher amount of all 10 essential amino acids; essential amino acids can’t be produced by the body and must be obtained from diet.2


 There are 2 types of beta-casein proteins in milk: A1 and A2.

A1, present in high amounts in milk such as cow’s milk, is linked to tummy issues in some people.3

✓Sheep milk is an A2-type milk, so it’s ideal for kids sensitive to cow’s milk.1


Enriched with docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and arachidonic acid (ARA). 

Contains beta palmitin (OPO).

  With prebiotics galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS) and fructo-oligosaccharides (FOS).

Visit https://springsheepnz.com.my/ for more information on how sheep milk can be good for your kid.

This product is not for children under 1 year old. Breastfeeding is best and provides the optimal balance of nutrition and protection during growth and development. Ask your doctor for more information.


 1. Barłowska, J., Szwajkowska, M., Litwińczuk, Z., & Król, J. (2011). Nutritional value and technological suitability of milk from various animal species used for dairy Production. Comprehensive reviews in food science and food safety, 10(6), 291–30

2. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1541-4337.2011.00163.x 2. Park, Y. W., Haenlein, G. F. W., & Wendorff, W. L. (2006). Sheep milk. In Handbook of milk of non-bovine mammals (pp.137-194). Wiley-Blackwell.

3. Jianqin, S., Leiming, X., Lu, X., Yelland, G. W., Ni, J., & Clarke, A. J. (2016). Effects of milk containing only A2 beta casein versus milk containing both A1 and A2 beta casein proteins on gastrointestinal physiology, symptoms of discomfort, and cognitive behavior of people with self-reported intolerance to traditional cows’ milk. Nutrition journal, 15, 35. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12937-016-0147-z

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How & Why Organic Milk Can Be Good For Your Child

Bellamy's Organic toddler milk

Your toddler’s body is in a constant state of flux, with new tissues being built and current tissues being developed and fine-tuned.

Therefore, you don’t want to just to give your toddler just any milk. Your toddler’s milk should also be free of unwanted ‘extras’ that may hinder their optimal growth and development.

Organic milk is that milk your toddler deserves.


The unwelcome news:

  • Pesticides are 10 times more toxic to a child than an adult.1
  • High-pesticide-residue foods have been linked to chronic or long-term health complications in children, such as learning disabilities and behavioural problems (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or ADHD, etc).2
  • Such pesticides are commonly used in conventional farming these days, including during the production of feed that will be consumed by cows.

Now, the good news:

When it comes to organic cow’s milk, care is taken to ensure that cows are fed on organic grass and hay. Absolutely no genetically modified grain, corn, or soy will be given to these cows.

That way, you can be assured that your toddler will be getting all the nutritional goodness of milk with none of the ‘extras’ that may be harmful to their growth and development.


Some nutrients are present in greater quantities in organic milk, compared to non-organic counterparts.

A good example of this is omega-3 fatty acids, which can support your toddler’s mental and eye development. Organic milk contains 40-60% more of these fatty acids compared to conventional types!3,4,5,6


Organic milk producers raise dairy cows in a more natural living environment. These cows have continuous access to organically-grown grass, and their diet is free from genetically-modified grains. They are also not subjected to antibiotics and growth hormones in order to force them to produce more milk.

As a result, these cows are healthier and happier. Such ethical raising and caring of the cows also involve sustainable practices that are kinder to the environment—less soil erosion, fewer wastage, and less air pollution.


As more parents become aware of the benefits of organic milk for their toddlers, it is important to pick the crème de la crème of organic milk brands—one that is properly certified to be indeed organic like the manufacturer claims it to be.

Were the only brand in Malaysia with double the assurances

At Bellamy’s Organic EQUISPIRE, we are pleased to share that the EQUISPIRE STEP 3 TODDLER MILK DRINK is double-certified by the Australian Certified Organic (ACO) and the National Association for Sustainable Agriculture Australia (NASAA), two leading and internationally recognized certification bodies for organic products.

√ Organic milk is produced as nature intended, so you are giving your toddler a pure start in life.

√  Less than 1% of the world’s dairy milk is certified organic, and we have two certifications! You can be assured that we are fully committed to producing authentic, genuine, and nutritious organic milk for your toddler.

√ No synthetic chemicals and processes assured.

The World Health Organisation and the Ministry of Health Malaysia recommend exclusive breastfeeding for the first year of life. After that children should receive age-appropriate complementary foods, and breastfeeding should continue up to 2 years of age. Consult your doctor if you have breastfeeding difficulties.


1. National Research Council (US) Committee on Pesticides in the Diets of Infants and Children. (1993). Pesticides in the diets of infants and children (1st ed.). National Academies Press.

2. Roberts, J. R., Karr, C. J., Paulson, J. A., Brock-Utne, A. C., Brumberg, H. L., Campbell, C. C., Lanphear, B. P., Osterhoudt, K. C., Sandel, M. T., Trasande, L., & Wright, R. O. (2012). Pesticide exposure in children. Pediatrics, 130(6), e1765–e1788. https://doi.org/10.1542/peds.2012-2758

3. Średnicka-Tober, D., Barański, M., Seal, C. J., Sanderson, R., Benbrook, C., Steinshamn, H., Gromadzka-Ostrowska, J., Rembiałkowska, E., Skwarło-Sońta, K., Eyre, M., Cozzi, G., Larsen, M. K., Jordon, T., Niggli, U., Sakowski, T., Calder, P. C., Burdge, G. C., Sotiraki, S., Stefanakis, A., Stergiadis, S., … Leifert, C. (2016). Higher PUFA and n-3 PUFA, conjugated linoleic acid, α-tocopherol and iron, but lower iodine and selenium concentrations in organic milk: a systematic literature review and meta- and redundancy analyses. The British journal of nutrition, 115(6), 1043–1060. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0007114516000349

4. Griffin, R. M. (n.d.). Omega-3 fatty acids: Fact sheet. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/healthy-aging/omega-3-fatty-acids-fact-sheet

5. Omega-6 fatty acids. (n.d.). Mount Sinai Health System. https://www.mountsinai.org/health-library/supplement/omega-6-fatty-acids

6. Benbrook, C. M., Butler, G., Latif, M. A., Leifert, C., & Davis, D. R. (2013). Organic production enhances milk nutritional quality by shifting fatty acid composition: a United States-wide, 18-month study. PloS one, 8(12), e82429.

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“Eeeuw, My Baby Has Diaper Rashes!”

"Eeeuw, My Baby Has Diaper Rashes!"

May 8, 2022   Return

Words Pank Jit Sin and Lim Teck Choon

Dr Leong Kin Fon

Paediatric Dermatologist


Patches of bright red skin on the buttocks, thighs and genitals… many parents will be familiar with such a sight in their babies as diaper rash is a common condition among babies that regularly wear diapers. Also called perianal dermatitis, diaper rash can cause a baby to fuss and cry (especially when someone touches the diaper area) and alarm the parents.

This month, paediatric dermatologist Dr Leong Kin Fon offers a look into what causes diaper rash and how we can keep our little ones free from this annoying condition.



There are a few possible causes that parents should take note of.

The baby’s own stool. Dr Leong shares that a baby’s stool contains high amounts of protease, an enzyme that helps in the digestion of protein. Protease can also irritate a baby’s skin, which is thinner and more sensitive than an adult’s. This is why diaper rash is more prone to break out when a baby experiences frequent bowel movement or has diarrhoea.

Tip! Vaseline and zinc oxide cream can help protect a baby’s intact healthy skin from irritation. For babies who are prone to developing diaper rash, parents may consider the use of diaper rash prevention creams that contain protease enzyme inhibitors which keep the protease in a baby’s stool from irritating the skin and vitamin E which helps to support the healing of damaged skin.


Diapers that are too tight. When a baby’s diapers are too tight, the diaper material can rub against the skin each time the baby moves. This constant rubbing can lead to rashes forming on the affected areas of the skin. Also, tight diapers reduce the airflow into the diaper region, causing that area to stay moist. A moist environment will encourage bacteria and yeast to grow and irritate our baby’s skin.

Tip! Make sure our baby’s diapers fit comfortably without being too snug or too loose.


Constant use of wet wipes. Babies do as they please, and much to many parents’ exasperation, this behaviour also applies to doing a number one or two at the most inconvenient moments. In such a moment, wet wipes can come in handy. However, Dr Leong cautions against overusing them, as wet wipes tend to contain preservatives that can cause allergic reaction on a baby’s skin.

Tip! “Wet wipes are no replacement for water and soap,” he clarifies.



Change our baby’s diapers often. Soiled diapers should be removed promptly. If your baby is cared for by a nanny or a daycare centre, remind them to do this in your absence.

Clean our baby’s bottom gently but thoroughly during diaper change. We can do this using a moist washcloth. As Dr Leong mentioned earlier, avoid the use of wet wipes as much as possible.

It’s okay for baby to go without diapers. Exposing our baby’s skin to air is a gentle but effective way to let the diaper region dry. Therefore, after a diaper change, we can lay our baby down on a large towel (just in case our baby decides to do another round) and play with him or her for a while.

Wash our hands before and after a diaper change. Our hands may carry germs that can be passed on to the baby’s diaper region and cause an infection.


Diaper rashes are rarely life threatening and can often be addressed without having to bring the baby to a paediatrician.

Dr Leong advises the following:

  1. Keep the baby’s skin dry as much as possible.
  2. Wash soiled areas with tap water. Then, use a clean cloth or towel and gently pat to dry.
  3. Change the baby’s diapers as often as possible.

However, we should bring our baby to a paediatrician if we observe any of the following:

  • The rashes look severe.
  • The rashes remain or get worse despite our efforts to keep our baby’s skin dry and clean.
  • There is also bleeding and/or pus formation.
  • Our baby also has a fever.



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7 Ways To Motivate Your Kids To Do Their Homework

7 Ways To Motivate Your Kids To Do Their Homework

May 8, 2022   Return


All children go through a phase where they just don’t feel like doing their homework, sometimes. So, what can you do to motivate them and make studying a fun experience? 

Tip#1: Keep calm and don’t nag

Don’t nag, no matter how much you are tempted to. Some kids are natural rebels, so the more you nag them, the more they will refuse! 

Just like how you would like a break after a long day at work, your kids need to wind down too after a long day at school. Allow them to spend a little time (about 20 minutes) to unwind such as playing football or watch a bit of TV. Get your children to set the time when they have to work on their homework and make sure that they stick to it. 

Tip#2: “Study time” sounds more fun than “homework time”

Instead of guilt-tripping your kids by saying “it’s homework time”, why not say “it’s study time”? “Study time” is broader and can reflect on either studying and/or doing homework. It also gives the impression that they can also use that time to study while doing homework.  

Tip#3: Make study time a part of their daily schedule

Studying will become a habit once you get your kids to study around the same time. Isn’t it just wonderful to see your kids studying on their own without you telling them to? Have a chat with them and establish a study schedule through which they can determine the time they would like to spend studying. Ensure your child is doing this on a daily basis, and all other activities such as meeting up with friends are listed out too, so that there will be a healthy balance between study and life. Most importantly, ensure that they stick to their schedules as much as possible.

Tip#4: A little support and encouragement goes a long way

As much as you would like to help your children with their homework, remember this, it is their homework. So, let them be responsible for it. The purpose of having homework, in the first place is to test their understanding of the subject while making use of the knowledge and skills they have learnt. Be a supportive parent and don’t criticize or punish your child. Encourage your child to be independent in getting the homework done.  Understand the problems they face (if there are any) and provide rational solutions.   

Tip#5: Praise and appreciate

Let your kids know that you appreciate the efforts they make to tackle their homework independently, even if they do not get it all right. Use encouraging words such as “You have done an amazing job, keep it up!” to induce positivity while providing them the confidence to accept future challenges.  

Tip#6: Motivate with goals and rewards

You can motivate your kids to study by giving out a reward when a goal is achieved. The goal set must, of course, be achievable by your child. It should reflect on their ability to make improvements for the desired goal. The form of reward given can be varied, for instance, it can be a movie trip, an ice-cream, a sleepover, etc. 

Tip#7: No distractions, please!

The TV, mobile phone, computer and hand-held games can be distracting. Limit and control their use. For example, they can only watch the TV when they are done with their homework. If your child likes to listen to music while doing homework, make sure that the music he or she is listening to is not too distracting.

References: 1.http://parenting-ed.org/ 2.www.today.com/parents/secrets-getting-kids-do-their-homework-8C11080329

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Mommy, I Want a Pet!

Mommy, I Want a Pet!

May 8, 2022   Return


From those that peep at us behind a glass to the four-legged furry ones that run between our legs, our friends from the    animal kingdom are no stranger to our homes. They’ve found a special place in the lives of many humans for centuries, and the multiple roles they play in our lives have proven how much of our world depends on them. Having a pet is like having a child. But what if it is our child that wants a pet? Should you venture into it?



Having a pet to many children means getting their first best friend and getting the right pet is the key element to a “happily ever after” of your own which only means the wrong pet can complicate matters at home. So before you say YES to your child, consider doing this first.

  • Study before settling

Invite your child to do some research with you. List down the type of pets you can consider bringing home and why. Does the pet of your choice require special care and attention? Is it a pet that is more hazardous or hardy for your child? Would you have to spend a lot of time caring for it? Would it flair up allergies in your child? Would you have to allocate a special place for it? The questions can be endless but, in a nutshell, you need to make certain that the pet you get is compatible with your kid(s) and family, and the lifestyle you lead, not forgetting the cost it would incur on your monthly budget.


Remember, your child’s pet ought to have the right temperament for life with little kids so you can be assured of your child’s care first and foremost. So, before you make your choice, and before your child falls in love with his or her pet, research must come first, because having to decide to give that pet a new home later if it isn’t compatible, would mean putting your child through a heart break.



Pets can teach our kids values such as respect, compassion and empathy from a very young age. It is also proven that children with pets such as dogs and cats develop higher self-esteem and communication skills. Having a pet in your child’s early years can be a great way to instill responsibility in them as they are assigned to pet chores.

Pets make a great companion with their unconditional nature, making them a friend your child can count on. Some pets can play a deeper role as therapy pets for children and adults with special needs. You may also research on what your child can benefit from the pet you get for him or her and strengthen your relationship with your child through the presence of a mutual friend – the pet! HT

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Expert Advice for Expecting Parents

Expert Advice for Expecting Parents

May 8, 2022   Return


We all know that expecting a new born is never easy, even if it isn’t your first time. On January 27th 2019, M&B marketing held their fourth Parentcraft Workshop titled “Nourishing Parents, Nurturing Little One”, a practical and informative crash course on what to expect when expecting. HealthToday was right there to bring you some interesting topics discussed during the event.



In this day and age, the slew of opinions and information shared with us from various sources is sometimes more than we can handle. With an endless supply of online videos, websites, blogs, magazines and mobile apps, how do we sieve through the information? Which is true? Which is false? As an expecting parent, we often wonder: what are the latest updates on caring for the little ones? Well, all that may be too much for Dr Cheah to cover in merely an hour. However, he brings up some pertinent updates found in recent studies and debunks a few common myths as he goes along.

Dr Cheah opens by saying, “Nothing truly prepares you, when it comes to becoming a parent, but there are certain tweaks you can make to your mindset, to help you discern every piece of information you receive.” You should always check whether the information comes from a reputable source, and whether it is evidence-based. Also, get ready for a long journey of learning. “I’m a paediatrician and my kids are already teenagers, but I’m still always learning,” Dr Cheah reveals.

Caring for your baby starts when the baby is conceived. On top of that, Dr Cheah shares that environment factors during pregnancy, birth and after-birth can affect your baby’s health in the long run.

Be a Happy Mummy

Pregnancy is a wonderful time. Your body is going through changes hormonally, immunologically, metabolically, and even psychologically. That said, it can also be a stressful time if you don’t journey it well. “Personally, I think that if you are calm and if you are happy, it affects your baby positively. During pregnancy, your baby can detect your heartbeat, your happiness, but also your fears and anxiety,” Dr Cheah says. He advises expecting mothers to keep calm and think positive. It’s good for the baby and nine months is a very short time compared to the rest of the baby’s life.


Maternal Microbiome and Baby’s Health

Our microbiome refers to all the microorganisms in our body. There are tons of good and bad bacteria in us, and a balance of these bacteria ensures us a healthy body. When you have an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the body during pregnancy, it affects the baby. One of the factors that can set-off an imbalance is the use of antibiotics. The use of antibiotics during a Caesarean section is linked to increased prevalence of childhood obesity, allergies, eczema, asthma and so on.

“Almost 80% of newborn babies I see in my clinic have some form of allergy to cow’s milk protein. The number of children with allergies has doubled in the last three years,” Dr Cheah says. However, you should follow your obstetrician and gynaecologist’s advice on this. If the baby or your health is in jeopardy and antibiotics are needed, you should follow your doctor’s advice.

Get Plenty of Fruit and Veggies

A healthy and balanced diet, rich in fibre, fruit and vegetables is good for you and your baby overall. A high-fibre diet containing lots of fresh fruit and vegetables is associated with a lowered risk of the baby developing allergies. “That doesn’t mean you should become a vegetarian,” Dr Cheah chuckles. “You still need your good quality protein to ensure your baby grows healthily. Certain proteins can pass through the amniotic fluid, and your baby, without being born, will get a taste of the food you eat.”

In the Chinese culture, after delivery, serving alcohol to the mother in herbal soups is a popular and common practice. But Dr Cheah warns that alcohol can pass through breast milk and is not safe for the baby.

Smoking is a Big No-no (and Dad’s not off-the-hook)

It is well documented that women should not smoke when they are pregnant, it affects the mother and baby negatively. Smoking increases the risk of low birth weight, premature birth, stillbirth, respiratory complications, heart defects, central nervous system defects and infant death. That’s not all, recent studies show that if a father smokes during or before his wife’s pregnancy, it also jeopardizes the baby’s health. Having a father who smokes increases chances of chromosomal breakage, which leads to an increased risk of the baby developing genetic defects.

Mode of Delivery Matters

Dr Cheah explains, “In the past 10 years, there is strong evidence to show that vaginal delivery is associated with the reduction of risk in developing allergies and asthma in babies.” As the baby comes out of the birth canal, the baby gets exposed slowly to all the good bacteria around the birth canal. “Somehow when this happens, it improves the baby’s immune system.” He continues, “Having a caesarean birth is also associated with an increased risk of the baby developing childhood obesity, autoimmune diseases and allergies. That said, you should follow the advice from your obstetrician and gynaecologist. Your doctor will advise you if you need a Caesarean section.”

Does a clean environment lead to a healthier baby?

Contrary to popular belief and according to a study done by Johns Hopkins Medicine, newborns exposed to dirt, household germs and pollen during the first year of life, appeared less likely to develop allergies, wheezing and asthma later in life.

What is the best milk for my baby?

“This is the number one question I get asked as a paediatrician. I always tell them that human milk is best for human babies.” Dr Cheah also says, “A human mother’s breast milk contains the right amount and the quality of nutrition that is needed for her baby.”

Dr Cheah explains, “Your breast milk and the amount that you produce changes as the baby grows older. Your breast milk carries certain hormones, and even these hormone levels change throughout the day.” That’s how dynamic breast milk is. He concludes, “We are taking more and more processed food now. But in order for us to be fit and healthy, we have to have a balanced diet with good nutrition, especially in the early years. This will build up the immune system, along with vaccinations.” HT

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Your Bundle of Joy Arrives

Your Bundle of Joy Arrives

May 8, 2022   Return

Words Hannah May-Lee Wong

Dr Rama Krishna Kumar Krishnamurthy

Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologis

“Labour, by the English definition, is manual hard work, and that’s what you’re going to be doing when you deliver your baby; either by operation (Caesarean section) or naturally.” Dr Rama begins. “Of course, mums delivering through the normal labour process are going to be burning much more calories. During the whole process of labour, a mother burns 2500 to 3000 calories in one hour! Just imagine those in labour for more than 15 hours. It’s indeed a very laborious process.”

Your doctor will probably provide you an estimated date of delivery, but that’s just an estimation. According to Dr Rama, most women (approximately 70%) deliver at more than 9 and a half months (more than 38 weeks).


Preparing for Labour

Before the miraculous event of birth, some preparation is needed to welcome the little one into this world. Besides preparing baby napkins, outfits and your hospital bag, one of the most important form of preparation is the preparation of the mind. “The best way you can assure yourself is to tell yourself: ‘my grandmothers did it, my mother did it, so I can do it’,” Dr Rama says. Fill yourself with positive thinking, tell yourself that you will do your best, meditate and exercise to calm yourself.

Every pregnancy is unique, and you can’t predict when you will go into labour. That said, some of the things you can do to prepare yourself for the big day include: making a checklist for yourself and your baby, packing a hospital bag, planning the fastest route to the hospital, getting a babysitter for your other children, and checking whether to call your doctor or nurse first or go straight to the hospital when you go into labour.

The Hospital Bag

When you are about 36 weeks pregnant, it is advisable that you start packing what you need at the hospital for delivery day (and after). This is to ensure you have plenty of time to pack and you don’t leave out anything essential.

Things to pack for Mum:

  • Identity Card
  • Check-up record
  • Smartphone
  • Shirts that button-up in front (preferably of cotton material) and sarong
  • Going home outfits
  • Slippers
  • Toiletries
  • Socks
  • Cereal bars, snacks and drinks
  • Underwear and sanitary pads

Things to pack for baby:

  • Going home outfit
  • Mittens and booties
  • Hat
  • Blanket
  • Car safety seat to bring your baby home


Am I in Labour?

“Not every time you feel pain in your stomach means you’re in labour,” Dr Rama clarifies. The symptoms of labour can be divided into true labour and false labour. So how do you know you’re in labour? In the last weeks of pregnancy, your uterus may start to cramp. These cramps are often uncomfortable or painful, especially as you get closer to your due date. However, these irregular cramps you experience may not be labour, but Braxton-Hicks contractions, also known as false labour. Here is how to differentiate them:


True Labour: Contractions come at regular intervals and these intervals get closer together as time goes on. They typically last for 30 to 90 seconds each time. The contractions will keep coming no matter what you do.

False Labour: Contractions are irregular and do not get closer together with time. False labour contractions may stop when you walk, rest or change position.


True Labour: Contractions steadily get stronger and more intense.

False Labour: Contractions are most often weak or strong contractions are followed by weaker ones.


True Labour: Pain starts in the back and moves to the front.

False Labour: Pain is most commonly felt only in front.

Other signs of labour:

Dr Rama says that 50% of women may experience some bleeding when they go into labour. This happens because once you go into labour, your cervix opens. An early sign of labour is when a drop of blood with mucous is being discharged— this is the mucous plug that has been keeping your cervix sealed and protecting your baby from infections.

Your amniotic sac ruptures (your water breaks). If fluid flows out without strain or force, it’s likely your amniotic sac has ruptured. Write down what time it happened.


The Three Stages of Labour:

Knowing what to expect when going into labour may put your mind at ease a little. On average, labour lasts 12 to 14 hours if you are delivering your first baby. In subsequent births, labour may be shortened by approximately half the time.

First Stage: The latent phase is the longest phase of labour. It is when your cervix dilates slowly to 4 cm. It lasts around 12 hours on average for first-time mothers. From 4 cm to 10 cm, you enter the active phase where dilation happens at a rate of approximately 1 cm per hour.

Second Stage: This stage entails full dilation at 10 cm until delivery of baby. It typically lasts 1 hour, but it could go up to 2 to 3 hours.

Third Stage: The easiest stage. It lasts from the birth of the baby to the expulsion of the placenta. It is completed in 30 minutes.

Interventions and Pain Management in Labour

“This is probably the best part of this talk that all mothers have been waiting for,” Dr Rama jokes. The good news is, there are options available to make the labour and delivery process less painful. Medical intervention options include: inhalation of nitrous oxide (laughing gas), opioid injections and regional anaesthesia by epidural. You should discuss with your doctors when deciding which option to go for. Alternatively, natural pain management options include relaxation therapy, warm showers and aromatherapy.

Additionally, at 32 to 34 weeks of pregnancy until labour, mothers can opt to do perineal massages either on their own, or with the help of their spouse. These massages help relax and increase the elasticity of the vaginal and perineal muscles. It will ease the delivery process and reduce tear and cutting during labour. A cut is usually made between the vagina and anus in a procedure known as episiotomy. The massage also stimulates the muscles which betters the blood supply to it. Thus, it helps speed up wound healing after delivery. Dr Rama says, “All these benefits are medically proven; however, they are not easy to do. But once you’ve done it a few times, you’ll be more sure of yourself.” HT

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