numBaby++; /* welcome, my precious! */

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The long wait is over. Welcome to the family, my precious! It’s good to finally see you face-to-face. I hope we’ll have a great time, and learn many new things together.

Let me salute you in the languages that are natively spoken in your geo-distributed family: Hoşgeldin! Welcome! Welkom! Bienvenue! Mirë se vini! Добродошли!

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A kid has to pick his apples

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Last week, we shared a first with our son: our first and biggest apple picking day in a huge apple farm. In other words, we participated in Appelplukdag 2015. The event had been organized in Mierhoopweg, Wijer-Nieuwerkerken region, and it took us about 1 hour of relaxed driving on a late Sunday morning. During the final moments of our drive, the scenery made us think we were figures in a painting depicting a pastoral scene. When we arrived at the apple (and pear) farm, we saw a huge crowd; hundreds, if not thousands, of cars, slowly being guided by young people to an available parking spot. After you left your car, you had a few choices: take a slow walk on a narrow lane to reach the main event, wait for a big tractor and its attached cart and jump on it, or, leave the nostalgia and get on the horse cart drawn by strong Belgian horses.

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How to listen to your baby’s heartbeat before birth: Pinard Horn, Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

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Baby listenerIt was about 3.5 years ago, I still had a few months before my son was born, and I wanted to listen to him, maybe catch a few heartbeats while he was moving in his mother’s womb. I had a simple plan. I visited a medical store in Antwerp’s Brederodestraat and started to look for a stethoscope. The following dialog took place between me and one of the saleswomen:

– Hello, may I help you?

– Yes, I want a stethoscope please.

– Which type?

– (Not prepared for the question and startled) Well, it doesn’t matter, you know.

– Hmm, are you a doctor?

– No.

– A medical intern?

– No.

– Then why do you want a stethoscope? What will you do with it?

– I just want to hear the sounds my child makes. He’s not born yet. Why don’t you just sell me a stethoscope? More

Computerized System to Prevent SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome): BabyBeat

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I’ve just read an interesting and exciting news from ScienceDaily:

A new system using video and computer software to monitor a baby that could be used to prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS), as well as for telemedicine applications, has been developed by two students at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (BGU).

The new system called “BabyBeat” was developed by students in the BGU Departments of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences. It uses computer algorithms to convert video footage to pulses that represent a baby’s heartbeat and skin tone. In the event that the system detects an abnormal heartbeat, an alarm sounds to awaken the baby, change its breathing pattern and alert the parents.

SIDS is the unexpected, sudden death of a child under age one in which an autopsy does not show an explainable cause of death. No one knows what causes SIDS, but researchers have theorized that a dramatic drop in heart rate occurs just before death. Thousands of babies die from this phenomenon each year in the United States.

Tomer Apel and Anava Finesilver developed the program as part of their final research project. While still early in the development process, the software program will work with a basic video camera and home computer, which minimizes cost.

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.

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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