Prenatal Information Evening @ University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA): A few lessons for mothers and fathers – Part 2

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One week after the first session we attended the second and final session of ‘Prenatal Information Evening’ at UZA (University Hospital of Antwerp).  Similar to the previous one it began with valuable and informationally loaded presentations from experienced medical staff. In addition to medical information (such as the importance of pelvis and then details about breastfeeding) it was also great to learn more about ‘Kind en Gezin‘, a Belgian government organization dedicated to family and child support.

Prenatale Infoavond - 2

Prenatale Infoavond - 2

After the presentations there was a short break and then a nurse took us to the fifth floor and showed us the maternity. We had the opportunity to see where the pregnant women stay when they first come to the hospital birth, and then the labor rooms to which they are brought when the pain starts. Across those rooms were the operation rooms where the actual birth takes place.

I’m really thankful to every person who organized such a nice and informative event for us parents. I think this kind of orientation is very important because when the baby decides it is time say “Hello, world!” I’m sure I’ll feel a sense a panic no matter what and I’m glad I won’t have to think where exactly I should take my wife to. And having some information and idea how the whole process will go on is assuring.

There is humanity and beauty in this madness: Montessori Madness! A Parent to Parent Argument for Montessori Education

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Montessori Madness

Montessori Madness

This is the second book in my path of learning Montessori method for educating children, but I would suggest it as the first Montessori book to almost everyone. Unlike my first book (which is another gem I highly appreciate and value in its own category), this one is much shorter and includes just a few references to other works; this is basically a book written by a parent for other parents.  A very personal book which tells the story of a father who really deeply cared about the education of his children and his amazing discoveries. Trevor Eissler does not shy away from giving accounts of his own childhood in which there were some difficult moments; his sharp analysis of what kind of education leads to those difficulties is at least as valuable as a scientific psychological research for me. Maybe that’s because I’m also about to become a father and I’m also obsessed about the process a child lives throughout his first years.
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Expectant Fathers Should Receive Prenatal Care & Support

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It is perfectly normal that mothers are at the focus of pregnancy, after all they are the ones who are carrying the child for about nine months. But compared to earlier generations more people started to take fathers into account, too. Not as passive observers but as active members who can contribute a lot to the development of the child before birth. I have just heard the news about a scientific study which evaluates to role of fathers. According to the news titled “Expectant Fathers Should Receive Prenatal Care, Support, Study Finds” in  Science Daily,

A University of Missouri researcher has found that stress related to pregnancy uniquely affects the health of expectant fathers, which in turn, influences the health of expectant mothers and their infants. Health services should incorporate counseling and assessments for men and women to reduce stressors and promote positive pregnancy outcomes, says ManSoo Yu, assistant professor in MU’s Public Health Program.

Mental distress in pregnant women — caused by anxiety, lack of social support or low self-esteem — is associated with poor infant health. The importance of psychological and social factors in women is well documented, but few studies have examined these factors in men. Men play an important role in supporting and caring for pregnant women, Yu said.

“Too often, men are treated as observers of the pregnancy process,” said Yu, assistant professor in the College of Human Environmental Sciences. “Acknowledging and addressing the emotional well-being of men as well as women is recommended. Providing prenatal care for expectant fathers can encourage men to have a proactive role in pregnancy, which will allow for better maternal and infant health outcomes.”

The original article is titled “Unique perspectives of women and their partners using the Prenatal Psychosocial Profile Scale” and published recently in Journal of Advanced Nursing.

Prenatal Information Evening @ University Hospital of Antwerp (UZA): A few lessons for mothers and fathers – Part 1

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Two days ago we attended the first part of “Prenatale Infoavond” (Prenatal Information Evening) session organized by UZA (University Hospital of Antwerp). This is an informational evening session to prepare expectant mothers, and freely available to them (and their relatives); all we had to do was to register ourselves by signing the application form a few weeks before the event. I was curious about this event because I know that UZA has certificate of ‘Baby and Mother-friendly Hospital‘, a program initiated by “UNICEF and the World Health Organization to ensure that all maternities,whether free-standing or in a hospital, become centers of breastfeeding support.” (Recent research indicates that there is strong evidence showing this initiative led to higher level of breastfeeding.)

I must admit that I did not expect such a smooth and information-rich organization. We were greeted by nurses and midwives, on the tables before the auditorium entrance there were very high quality booklets and brochures related to birth, small bottles of oils and creams for mothers and babies. Organizers were also kind enough to provide us with an abundant amount of tea, coffee, orange juice, water, etc.

Prenatale Infoavond @ UZA

Prenatale Infoavond @ UZA

The evening consisted of two presentations with a fifteen-minute pause in between. In the first session a senior nurse gave a presentation during which she talked about the labor process before birth and the birth itself. In addition to her slides she showed samples of instruments that may be used during birth such an electrode that can be attached to the baby’s head to record its brainwaves, a vacuum pump that sticks to the baby’s head and guides the baby, etc. There were more than one of each instrument and everybody had the chance to examine them by themselves. Meanwhile the nurse continued to give information about the labor process, what kind of hormones are involved, how the bonding between the mother and child (as well as father and child) is established (the child is directly and nakedly placed on the chest of the mother) and what the mothers should be expecting at the preparation and labor room.

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The Missing Manual for Your Baby

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Your Baby and Child

Your Baby and Child

When I heard that I’d be a father for the first time in my life, I had mixed feelings and started to ask myself a lot of questions. One of the questions I still ask myself is very simple: The baby arrived home safely and then what? In other words, where’s the documentation for the most complex entity that I’ll interact for a long time? I guess it is natural to ask this kind of question because I’m a professional software developer and having been involved with computers for the last 20 years, I’m used to reading some detailed documentation before and during my interaction with things that I’m not familiar with. And I’m definitely not familiar with raising a baby (having a younger brother does not count, that was about 30 years ago and I don’t remember much about the basics).

When I mentioned this to Chris Stephenson, former head of computer science department of Istanbul Bilgi University whom I had the privilege to work with and the experienced father of a wonderful child, he said that there was one book which he gave as a gift to every young parent expecting a child. Based on his advice I decided to buy and read “Your Baby and Child”. And I’m very glad that I did.

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Why most of the schools are boring and what you can do about it

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Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius

Most of the schools for most of the kids are boring or to put it in another way, they are the killers of innovation. Even the most curious kid with an insatiable desire and a healthy dose of intellectual energy knows what it feels like after 5-10 years of schooling, some even remember vivid accounts of how their energy was sucked out of their souls. It is a cliché to say that education is very important but then what kind of radical reforms we witnessed during the last 100 years?

I don’t have any particular expertise in the field of education, pedagogy or child development, but I spent a lot of time studying cognitive science, was involved in psychology research,  and practically taught kids how to program (heck, I even read “Mindstorms: Children, Computers, And Powerful Ideas” from Papert long time ago!). I’m not a foreigner to Piaget and read from books from and on Vygotsky. But I heard about Montessori only about a few months ago (well, to be fair I must admit that Papert’s book mentions Montessori, only in one page, in a single sentence and negatively). If Montessori method of education was something very new, or just a few years old, or even one or two decades old, I would not consider my situation very odd. Or if the method of Montessori was put to use only in a few schools in a few distant countries I would forgive myself for my ignorance. But to my surprise I learned that Montessori method is about 100 years old and put to test daily in many countries including many European ones as well as USA (some of the most famous names in my field turned out to be educated in Montessori schools: Larry Page and Sergei Brin (founders of Google), Jeff Bezos (founder of Amazon.com), Will Wright (the inventor of “The Sims”); read “The Montessori Mafia” from The Wall Street Journal for more information).

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