Healthy Mama: Struggling with separation anxiety?

separation anxiety

Dr. Matthew Steed and his daughter, Araceli, enjoy a refreshing imaginary drink during a recent tea party.

By Kimberly Steed, RN, MNSc. (woman, nurse, mother of 2 and wife of Dr. Steed)

The last few months I’ve been dealing with SEPARATION ANXIETY. Our oldest child, Glyn, never seemed to have an issue with me leaving or walking away. When and if he did, it was easily resolved. But that hasn’t been the case with our daughter Araceli.

Weekdays I have a sitter who watches her while I work, but every time I left the room she’d seem to have a panic attack! Strategically placed baby gates separate our home and as soon as I stepped over the gate, she suddenly started screaming and pleading, “Mommy, Mommy please don’t go!” It’s not only hard on her but also hard on me. I hated seeing her so upset, so I’d often try to stay with her longer — trying and hoping to her calm down.

Offers of rewards, delaying my exit, holding and hugging her never seem to calm her enough. I found myself getting more stressed, scolding her and even putting her in “time-out.” Over the last few weeks, her separation anxiety has improved and left me wondering if anything I’d done during those first few weeks might have made things worse.

Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development that starts at about 7 months of age. Normal separation anxiety is most common between the ages of 10-18 months and gradually disappears by 3 years of age. Separation anxiety may cause trouble with bedtime, resulting in an anxious, crying, and/or clinging little angel.

The severity and intensity of separation anxiety depends on how well the parent and child reunite, the child and the adult’s coping skills and how well the adult responds to the separation issue. A child of an anxious parent many times will be an anxious child. Separation anxiety is a normal stage of development and is only considered a mental health disorder in approximately 4%-5% of children and adolescents.

I wanted to know how to respond and what actions are helpful and appropriate when dealing with Araceli’s (our) separation anxiety. For a child with normal separation anxiety, here’s what I found:

  • Practice Separating. Leave for brief periods at first.
  • Plan separations after naps or feedings. Separation anxiety occurs more often when babies are tired or hungry.
  • Make up a “goodbye” ritual. Having a ritual reassures your child and can be as simple as a special wave through the window.
  • Keep things familiar. Have the sitter come to your home and when the child is away from home, have them take a familiar object with them.
  • Keep the same primary caregiver. If you hire a caregiver try to keep him or her so your child is not constantly left with someone new.
  • Make leaving simple. Tell your child when you are leaving and let them know that you plan to return and then GO. Don’t stall when it’s time to leave.
  • Reassure and don’t give in. Reassure your child that he or she will be fine while you’re gone. Set limits to help your child adjust.

After doing some research, I stopped letting my daughter know in advance that I’d be leaving. Now I wait until it’s time to leave and I kneel down and tell her I’m leaving, but I’ll be back. I give her a kiss and tell her to be a good girl.

At first she would cry and ask me not to leave. Then she moved on to “I need to tell you something” but couldn’t remember what she wanted to say. :-) Then she started asking me “Mommy, you come back?” Most recently, she is simply waving “Bye, Mommy.” Success at last!

After doing a little homework on this, I’m betting Araceli’s separation anxiety was likely made worse by my initial reactions. Now that we’ve tackled separation anxiety, I guess we should move on to the next issues… Thumb Sucking and Potty Training! Fingers crossed.

Kimberly is married to Mercy physician Dr. Matthew Steed. Dr. Steed’s number one passion is to care for the pregnancy and birthing needs of women. You may call him at the Mercy clinic at 479-338-5555 to begin your prenatal care and let him help you enjoy your pregnancy journey. His office is located in the Mercy Physician’s Plaza just off Interstate 540 in Rogers.

MERCY2NWAMotherlode.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions about a medical condition. Don’t delay getting professional medical advice because of something you read online. This website doesn’t necessarily recommend or endorse any specific tests, doctors, products, procedures or opinions discussed on the site.

Healthy Mama: What foods should I avoid eating while I’m pregnant?

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By Dr. Matthew Steed, Mercy family practice doctor and obstetrician (and father of two)

Most women seem to have a change in appetite immediately after finding out they’re pregnant.

Your appetite may go into overdrive or disappear altogether. Along with the change in appetite you may notice strange cravings. Everyone has an opinion about what certain cravings mean as well as what you should and shouldn’t eat while pregnant.

So from a medical standpoint, what should a woman that is pregnant avoid eating?

Shellfish

no food or drinksUncooked shellfish, including oysters, clams, mussels and scallops should be avoided. Cooked shellfish should be cooked until the shell opens.This ensures that bacteria and parasites have been killed.  If the shell doesn’t open on cooked shellfish then discard, because more than likely the shellfish was dead before cooking and may have been sick.

Chocolates

It’s ok to indulge in leftover Valentine’s chocolate, but avoid chocolates filled with liqueurs like Grand Marnier, Amaretto or Kuluha.  All alcohol should be avoided during pregnancy.

Meat, Fish and Dogs

Make sure that all meats are well cooked and not pink in any area. Undercooked meats can have E. coli, salmonella and toxoplasma. Sushi should be avoided but California rolls made with avocado and cooked crab is a great alternative.

It’s ok to enjoy a hot dog now and then, but they are high in nitrates, fat and sodium, so don’t eat them a lot even if you’re craving them.Make sure they are cooked until steaming. Handle the juice from hot dogs and other meat packaging carefully and don’t let the juice come in contact with other food.

Due to the risk of mercury the FDA recommends limiting fish to 12 ounces (about two servings) a week and avoiding some kinds of fish altogether. Click here for more info.

Canned items like smoked fish, such as salmon or trout are okay as long as they are not from the refrigerator section.Those that are refrigerated can contain listeria and are only safe if they are heated until steaming or they are part of a dish that has been cooked.  Avoid carving stations and refrigerator-ready-to-eat foods. Make sure meat is well cooked and still steaming hot when it is served.

Ice Cream

ice creamAvoid homemade ice cream that is made with raw eggs.  Raw eggs can contain salmonella (cooking kills salmonella, but freezing does not).

Holiday Foods

Turkey should be cooked until it reaches 180 degrees.Dressing or stuffing should be cooked outside of the turkey and in a separate baking dish.

Ensure ciders and soft cheeses are pasteurized. Unpasteurized items can contain listeria. Homemade eggnog should be avoided since it is generally made with raw, unpasteurized eggs and alcohol. Check the label for store bought or opt for the “soy nog” which does not contain eggs or dairy products.

During the time that my wife was pregnant for each of our children she had cravings for sugar. She has told me that she would go through the cabinets at the house looking for something sweet. There was a box of cake mix that she said she wanted to eat, but would have second thoughts about consuming a whole cake on her own. She even considered just eating some of the cake mix raw. You should never eat cookie dough or cake mix raw. As long as the cake is cooked, then a piece or two should be okay for a woman during an uncomplicated pregnancy.

Don’t be surprised if you are eating things you never would before. Enjoy your pregnancy along with all the fun and odd foods you may be craving.

Quick Facts:

1.  Always wash your hands before and after handling food.

2.  Ensure food is thoroughly cooked.

3.  Avoid unrefrigerated items or items that have been sitting out for 2 hours or more.

4.  Avoid ALL alcohol.

5.  Consult your physician with any questions about foods to avoid.

What did you crave when you were pregnant?

Dr. Steed’s number one passion is to care for the pregnancy and birthing needs of women. You may call him at the Mercy clinic at 479-338-5555 to begin your prenatal care and let him help you enjoy your pregnancy journey. His office is located in the Mercy Physician’s Plaza just off Interstate 540 in Rogers.

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NWAMotherlode.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions about a medical condition. Don’t delay getting professional medical advice because of something you read online. This website doesn’t necessarily recommend or endorse any specific tests, doctors, products, procedures or opinions discussed on the site.

New Mercy Clinic in Bella Vista earns an A+ for convenience and elegance

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Have you ever been to a doctor’s office that smelled like a coffee shop and looked like it might actually be a spa rather than a one-stop clinic for everything from pediatrics to cardiology?

Well, Gwen and I hadn’t either until we got a tour of the new Mercy clinic in Bella Vista, which opened in December. Even the bathrooms are gorgeous. This new “destination” clinic is over by Cooper Elementary and it’s stunning, with natural light filtering in from all angles to make the atmosphere open and inviting.

The new Mercy clinic handles all aspects of care, including: pediatrics, obstetrics/gynecology, cardiology, audiology, urology, endocrinology, gastroenterology, x-rays, lab work and rheumatology. It’s an all-in-one clinic, so the experience can be comprehensive with no gaps. We moms tend to be the ones to make the appointments for everyone in the family, so a set-up like this makes our life easier.

We think it’s great that Mercy is part of a growing national trend of being more patient-centered — and moving away from individual offices. Convenience is so important to mamas.

Click here to read part 1 of our tour, which shares info about the physician side of the building.

In this post, let’s pick the tour up at pediatrics. When we were there, a Mercy employee was showing an elementary-aged boy how to use the cool sand table that’s in the pediatrics area to keep kids busy while waiting.

mercy play table

On the right side of the building are the imaging and lab facilities. Cardiology, endocrinology, urology and audiology and x-ray services are housed together.

When you walk into the audiology area, one of the first things you see is a sound booth where hearing tests are performed. It looks like one of those sound-proof “isolation booths” they used on Miss America back in the day. Hearing aids are also serviced there, which is so convenient, isn’t it?

Next up, we visited cardiology. We ran into Dr. Larry Weathers while touring the cardiology area. He’s a heart doctor who knows his stuff. After peppering him with questions about what’s new in the world of heart medicine, we met a Mercy urologist who had us laughing out loud.

The new clinic also has a community room which has a built-in screen and projector and will be available for the community to use as well as a place for Mercy programs for the public. This is the only Mercy facility in the area that offers such a space available to the public.

On the way out of the clinic, we stopped by Cornerstone Pharmacy, which also has a cute little gift shop. Oh and did we mention that the pharmacy has a drive-through?

mercy pharmacy collage

You know what’s especially great? Many of these great features of the Mercy brand are already in place at their other clinics, but this new clinic will help them test out some of these other special touches can be refined by feedback from patients and health care providers. Then they can be implemented over time everywhere Mercy serves. From what we saw, they get an A+ and should duplicate this everywhere!

Click here to read more about the new Mercy clinic in Bella Vista!

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Mamas’ News Round-up: Sizzurp and other things you need to know

Mamas, we are constantly stumbling across things in the World Wide Web that get our attention — things we think our fellow local mamas would want to know about, too. So here’s a roundup of some of those “need to know” items we’ve seen recently. Just click the links for more info on each.

If you come across something important (or just fun) you’d like to share with moms, please let us know by posting a comment or by emailing us at gwen@nwamotherlode.com.

What is sizzurp?

sizzurpIt’s a combination of soda pop, candy and prescription-strength cough syrup that contains codeine.

Why do you need to know? Because it’s gaining popularity with kids, teens and twenty-somethings which is very bad because this stuff is LETHAL. The sweet combination of these elements makes it very easy to drink too much of it. Overdosing on this can shut down your respiratory system and cause DEATH.

Click HERE to read an NBC news story with more info on what we all need to know about sizzurp.

What’s the truth about flu shots during pregnancy?

NOSTALGIA © 1998 PhotoSpin www.powerphotos.comWe all know that, as moms, our instinct is to put nothing in our bodies while we’re pregnant that we think has even a tiny chance of hurting the baby. BUT… please understand that flu shots shouldn’t be in that category.

Doctors tell us that, not only is it safe to get a flu shot while you’re pregnant (and even during the first trimester), it’s important to do it to help protect your own life and the life of your baby.

Click HERE to read a post written by Dr. Matthew Steed of Mercy Health for more info about which type of flu vaccination to get and why you should get it regardless of which trimester you may be in.

And click HERE if you’re interested in helping a local family (Chris and Leslie Creekmore) who has been tragically impacted by flu this year. This beautiful young woman is fighting for her life right now and tragically lost her unborn baby during her hospitalization with flu. Please keep them in your prayers.

Healthy Mama: Exercise guidelines during pregnancy

healthy mama logoBy Dr. Matthew Steed, Mercy family practice doctor and obstetrician (and father of 2)

I’m commonly asked what things are safe during pregnancy. Over the years, I’ve been asked some “odd” questions:

  • question-mark“My aunt has been checking my cervix and thinks I’m in labor. Do you mind checking me?”
  • “Is red wine good for my baby’s brain?”
  • “After the delivery will you be able to tell who the baby’s dad is? ”

But others are a bit more practical with questions like, “When is it too late to travel by plane?” “Is it okay if I walk around when I’m in labor,”or “Is it safe to exercise while I’m  pregnant?”

As you can imagine, some of the odd questions have fast, easy answers: “Your aunt needs a psychiatrist.” “Have you ever heard of Fetal Alcohol Syndrome?” and “Sorry, but genetic testing is your best option.”

Other questions require more of a conversation, particularly the one about exercise. Exercise or planned repetitive physical activity structured to improve and maintain physical fitness is safe during most pregnancies, but the type, frequency and amount depends on the individual. A pregnant women who does regular, vigorous aerobic activity can continue exercising during pregnancy, as long as her pregnancy is uncomplicated.

Women that are not highly active should aim for about 150 minutes of aerobic activity per week. However, very few of my patients have that much time to exercise and 90 minutes might be a more reasonable goal.

“DON’T”: High impact exercise (gymnastics, horseback riding, and skiing) as well as scuba diving, hiking at altitude, and contact sports should be avoided. Pregnant women should also avoid hot tubs and sauna because they shouldn’t increase their core body temperatures.

pregnant yoga“DO”: Exercise like walking, swimming, water aerobics, stationary cycling , yoga, and low impact aerobics (prego aerobics) are good options. But it’s important to hydrate before, during and after exercise, wear loose fitting clothing and exercise in a cool environment.

Here’s some good news: You’ll need an additional 300 calories a day to get the proper nutrition if you’re exercising while you’re pregnant. And here’s even better news: Patients who exercise during pregnancy have less excessive weight gain during pregnancy and fewer of them experience an inability to lose weight at six months after delivery. Also, there’s no need to worry about exercise negatively affecting breastfeeding. It won’t. And pregnant patients who exercise usually have have better muscle tone, better energy levels, less back pain, and studies have even shown a reduction in postpartum depression.

But don’t go it alone. I strongly encourage the spouse to be involved in the exercise program because it gives the two of you time to talk about what’s going on in your day-to-day life, and it’s a great time to bond more as a couple. It helps for husbands, in particular, to see how much more effort it takes to move your body as your pregnancy progresses. Exercise is the best way I have found to demonstrate that process, and it gives him a better appreciation for the amazing work your body is doing during pregnancy.

Exercise during pregnancy is not for every patient, so please discuss ANY exercise plans with your OB provider. If you have any of the warning signs or conditions listed below, you should NOT exercise during the pregnancy.

  • Severe anemia
  • extreme morbid obesity
  • extreme underweight
  • fetal growth restriction
  • Gestational or chronic HTN
  • orthopedic limitations

If you have any of the conditions in the following list, you may be advised not to exercise so please talk to your doctor BEFORE you begin or continue any type of exercise: vaginal bleeding; dizziness; headache; chest pain; preterm labor; amniotic fluid leakage

I hope your pregnancy goes smoothly because, as I always say, healthy babies and happy moms make the world go around. :-)

Dr. Steed’s number one passion is to care for the pregnancy and birthing needs of women. You may call him at the Mercy clinic at 479-338-5555 to begin your prenatal care and let him help you enjoy your pregnancy journey. His office is located in the Mercy Physician’s Plaza just off Interstate 540 in Rogers.

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NWAMotherlode.com does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. This content is for informational purposes only and isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor if you have questions about a medical condition. Don’t delay getting professional medical advice because of something you read online. This website doesn’t necessarily recommend or endorse any specific tests, doctors, products, procedures or opinions discussed on the site.

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