E is for Eye Ointment after Birth

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The administration of eye ointment to infants after birth (Erythromycin, to be precise) is an antibiotic treatment which is offered for infants at birth. This is one of a number of options you will discuss with your care provider in advance of or immediately after the birth of your baby. 

During childbirth classes and prenatal visits with clients, this is a topic that comes up often, and one that most families feel a little bit confused on. 

Is erythromycin an outdated practice, or a necessary safety precaution?

Our first answer: Have an open discussion with your care provider; this their area of expertise, and out of our scope to offer advice. Like with any option or intervention that you’re unsure about, one of things we always share with our clients during prenatal visits and classes, is to pull B.R.A.I.N. out of your back pocket to help you formulate questions and make an informed decision. 

In the meantime, what IS Erythromycin, and what is it being used for? 

Erythromycin is a prophylactic (a fancy term for: ‘preventative’), antibiotic treatment used to treat neonatal conjunctivitis (newborn eye infection contracted during delivery).  Eye infections are common and usually harmless, unless the infant has been exposed to an active, sexually transmitted infection, Chlamydia being the most prevalent. 

There is a risk of blindness to infants who are exposed to Chlamydia, and routine administration of prophylactic eye treatment has been used to reduce the incidence of severe complications from this kind of infection since the early 1800’s. 

While Erythromycin treatment has proved to reduce the development of infection due to exposure, it is not 100% effective, and comes with it’s own set of risks. Research is increasingly seeming to suggest that the benefit of this routine medication does not outweigh the potential risks associated with routine use. 

STI’s like Chlamydia are routinely screened during your prenatal care blood work. If you are unsure if you may be a carrier, ask your care provider to check that your blood work is up to date and discuss the safest options. 

We like this thorough explanation on Erythromycin, written by Evidence Based Birth. The Canadian Paediatric Society also put out this research article in 2015 that explains their stance on this issue. 

What did you decide for you infant - did you opt in our out of eye ointment, and why? 

 

 

 

D is for Dad's - Adjusting to Fatherhood

Jace Pierson reflects on the wonderful + overwhelming adjustment into fatherhood, and his advice to other dads on how to survive, support, and savour each moment. 

When my wife was pregnant I forgot to imagine what it going to be like once this tiny human would join us. There was a lot of fun stuff like shopping, planning and pintrest-ing. Prepare yourself to spend some money! But as much as we planned, we found that we were heavily uninformed and unprepared. We had little in the way of friends with kids to ask, so making a birth plan became an intense few months of research. The first year has been a whirlwind of wonderful and overwhelming, so let me share a bit of my experience with you….

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Once our amazing baby girl was born, Meal planning quickly became the bane of our existence. It always seemed like we just ate but now we were h-angry at each other again. We ate a lot of take-out for the first while. (that's how I got this epic dad bod and mildly depleted savings). 

Sleep patterns were out the window and stress coping and memory becomes difficult when you're always tired and h-angry. And guess what? There are no more time outs, it's 1st down with 6 months to go!  It was overwhelming at times, but the amazing parts truly outweigh the hard times; like that first smile, and the pure joy of making your little one laugh for the first time. (I recommend tickles)! You start to see things in a whole new light: your kids light, and it’s almost as though you too are seeing it for the first time. 

For the year to follow the birth of my daughter I saw my wife more than the years she was not pregnant. Yet I found myself distanced and I missed her very much even though we were always together. As a husband, I found this to be one of the greatest challenges; I love my wife beyond belief and I live for time we spend together. 

As men when faced with difficult times, we tend to put our heads down focus elsewhere and push through until it’s over. Those first months of parenthood are no different.

 

If I could offer any advice to new dads its to stay present, and stay the course. 

 

Your child might not want that much to do with you for the first while and demand the attention of your partner, and that's okay. So what are you supposed to do? 

It’s your job to be there for mom; she needs you to be present, to be attentive, to fill in the gaps of what she no longer has the time or energy to do; this was the best advice I got from a good friend and I pass it unto you. 

Get your hands dirty! I have heard a few dads complain about changing their kids' diapers, how gross it is "I have a bad gag reflex and cant handle it". It’s time to MAN up friend (or should I say wo-man up, mom just birthed a human. If it comes down to who is tougher... She is). With the exception of breast feedings your roll and responsibilities are as equals.

Does this change when mom goes back to work? Sort of. 

Now that my wife is back at work, we are continually striving to find the balance between being a parent and maintaining our former life. Some days it works, and other days are a just a mess. It's constant growth, and as long as the communication stays open and you continue to have each other’s back, you will make it through in one piece.

Good luck & Have fun, it does go fast!

Jace is a father and husband, passionate about his family, friends, and the beautiful community of the Comox Valley that he calls home. Jace works as an advisor with Sunlife Financial, and is a warm and enthusiastic resource for individuals and families exploring their options for investments, education saving plans, and much more.

For more information you can visit his website, or contact him directly at jace.pierson@sunlife.com.

 

Offering Support Through Miscarriage and Infant Loss

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The loss of a pregnancy is a traumatic event. While it is said that 1 in 4 known pregnancies end in miscarriage, this statistic does not make the loss any less sad or painful for the person experiencing it.

Perinatal loss refers to:

  • Miscarriage – a loss during the first 20 weeks of pregnancy 
  • Stillbirth – a loss after 20 weeks of pregnancy 

We are often told to keep our pregnancy on the down low, at least until after the first trimester, when the risk of miscarriage lessens. Not sharing the news of pregnancy is a very personal choice. When pregnancy loss happens, a range of emotions such as numbness and shock, guilt, heartbreak, devastation, and anger often follows it. Choosing to keep it to yourself can feel really isolating, while telling others then having to retract the news can be just as difficult. 

While those around you might be aware of what’s going on, they may not know what to do or say. Should they even talk about it? They may be scared of saying the wrong thing, or maybe they weren’t even supposed to know about the pregnancy. Social support plays a big role in recovery from trauma and grief, so here are some tips on how to be a source of support. 

 

The Basics of Supporting Someone through Loss:

Just listen. Often times, we want to say the right thing to try and fix a sad situation. In loss, there is nothing we can do to fix the grief. Instead, we can be there for the person, and just listen to anything they have to say. 

Be authentic. Be sincere in your reaction. It is okay to tell the person, “I don’t know what to say” or “I am so sorry, I’ve never been through this”. They will appreciate your honesty. Avoid using clichés - they come across as dismissive and minimize the loss.  

Recognize that everyone experiences a pregnancy and loss differently. Avoid sharing your own story or trying to relate to it. The person grieving is the focus.

 

3 A’s of Support in Loss:

Acknowledge the loss. Tell the person, “I am so sorry for your loss”, or “I am so sorry you are going through this”. Behaving as though nothing has happened is not helpful, and can isolate the person. Acknowledging it gives them space to grieve openly with people they trust. 

Allow the person or family time to grieve. Do not set any expectations on how long grief should take, or when they should ‘get over it’. 

Ask the person how they would like to be supported, then be available as much as possible to support them emotionally and with any other needs they may have. 

While the loss of a pregnancy through miscarriage or stillbirth is very personal, the woman and her family do not need to be alone in their grief. If you are aware of the loss, be thoughtful in offering support. You do not have to have gone through this experience yourself to support them. You just need to care. 

Alanna Thompson is a Registered Clinical Counsellor that offers compassionate, counselling support to families in the Comox Valley who have experienced miscarriage or infant loss. 

Alanna Thompson, M.A., R.C.C.

Registered Clinical Counsellor with Perinatal Loss Support Comox Valley

Phone: 250-650-4234

Email: info@cvloss.com