Emergency methods of birth control

If you had unprotected sex or a method of birth control failed during vaginal intercourse, you can use an emergency form of contraception to prevent pregnancy. Two types of pills are dedicated to emergency contraception: Preven, which contains a combination of estrogen and progestin, and Plan B, which contains progestin only. An IUD also may be used as an emergency contraceptive.

These emergency contraceptives prevent pregnancy by preventing ovulation, by preventing the egg from being fertilized or by preventing a fertilized egg from being implanted in your uterus.

Advantages

• You get a big break between babies. This may give you some time to go back to doing things you enjoyed before having an infant, such as going out for dinner or a movie or taking adventurous vacations. It may also give you a chance to refocus on your career or your marriage.

• Each child gets plenty of individual attention during infancy.

• Because of the difference in age, sibling rivalry tends to be less intense.

Getting your child ready for a new baby

Your older children may beg you to bring home a new baby"for the family. Yet children often react quite differently when the new little brother or sister actually arrives.

The reaction may not be what you expect. It's not abnormal for children to feel some palousy or resentment when a new sibling is born. These feelings may stem from possible fears that they're no longer loved or that they aren't good enough for their parents anymore. ffifen, children aren't able to articulate these fears and may express them by regressing to earlier behaviors, such as using a pacifier or reverting to baby talk, whining or clinging to you.

A new baby's arrival can be a stressful time for the whole family. But with a little forethought and planning, you may be able to ease some of the tension surrounding it and increase your other children's sense of security. Following are some suggestions for preparing your children for the new baby.

Before birth

You don't have to rush to tell your children you're pregnant. You might even wait until the later stages of your pregnancy when the changes are obvious and they can see what's happening. (her things you might do with your children while you're pregnant:

• Help your children create their own baby books so that they can understand what it was like when they were babies and see how far they've come. Explain to them that the new baby will have many of the same experiences.

• Look at picture books that depict the baby's stages of development in the uterus. Try to use correct anatomical terms whenever possible.

• Spend time with families who have infants. Explain to your children that they may have special duties when the new baby comes, such as singing quiet songs or smiling and laughing with the baby.

• Have your children make big brother or big sister birth announcements to give to friends and classmates.

• Introduce your children well ahead of time to any changes that are necessary before the baby is born, such as changing rooms. Celebrate the changes as something special because they're growing up.

• Begin to adjust your routines. Perhaps you'll want to cut back on how often you pick up and carry your children.

• Make child-care arrangements before you go to the hospital, preferably with someone your children enpy being with.

Instead, your younger child may regard his or her older sibling as more of a hero, while the older child may assume a more protective or guardian-like role.

• Waiting five years or more can also give you a financial break and allow you to save money for the next baby.

• Depending on the age of your first child, you may even have a built-in baby sitter.

• Take your children to a sibling class at your local hospital or read them stories about the arrival of a new baby.

In the hospital

Make the time in the hospital special for your children as well as the baby:

• Many hospitals now allow siblings to pin their parents in the birthing suite. This can promote the sense that they are participating in the process of childbirth.

• Reconnect with your older children and give them each some undivided attention before you introduce them to the new baby.

• Have your children and baby exchange gifts from one another.

• Have a small family birthday party for the baby with a cupcake and a zero candle.

At home

When you get home, let the answering machine get the phone and spend some time with just your immediate family. Also, you may:

• Make use of the birth announcements your children have made. Emphasize the big brother or big sister aspect of having a new family member.

• Give your children age-appropriate responsibilities if they wish. However, don't force them to assist. Examples include bringing fresh diapers at changing time or talking or singing to the baby, especially when the baby's fussy.

• Reserve certain spaces for your children that are exclusively theirs, such as a bedroom or toy area, and respect that space.

• Try to spend time one-on-one with your other children on a regular basis. It doesn't have to be every day, but make it a priority when you do schedule it. Try reading, taking a short walk or coloring a picture with your older children.

• If your child expresses regressive behavior, don't criticize him or her. Rather, praise any positive behavior and downplay the negative. Try to stick to your normal daily routine, including school or child care for your child, if possible. Include your child in family activities and spend time alone with your child. This will reassure him or her that although some things have changed, your love is still the same, and his or her needs are still important.

Disadvantages

• After several years of being out of baby mode, you may have a hard time getting back into it. You tend to forget how much work caring for an infant can be and how exhausted you become.

• Your body may not be as flexible as it once was. It may be a challenge to keep up with your grade schoolers or teenagers while caring for a baby.

• Schedules in your household will probably vary widely. It may be stressful to keep them all coordinated.

• Some parents liken having two far-apart children to having two only children. Due to the age difference, your children may not share many of the same interests. They may not be as close as children who are more similar in age.

• Long gaps between pregnancies may increase the risk of certain complications for both you and your baby. Some studies suggest that women who conceive five years or more after the birth of a previous child have a higher risk of developing high blood pressure during pregnancy (preeclampsia), which can lead to a life-threatening condition characterized by seizures (eclampsia). Newborns arriving after a long pregnancy interval may be at a higher risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Researchers speculate that women who wait five years or more to have another baby may lose some of the protective effects generated by the first pregnancy.

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