MATERNAL MOMENTS: PART 3

Young Family Playing With Happy Baby Son At Home

Hello Hello! first-time parents and all my readers out there passionate about kids and family stuff. Maternal Moments series is back! This time taking it further from where we paused last time. I’ll help you juggle your memory on what we covered last. If you recall, we brushed deeply on deconstructing myths and mending information gaps relating to pregnancy; The importance of choosing your delivery-hospital way in advance; And challenges that follow post -pregnancy for both parents be it – breastfeeding tips, what the mother should feed on to boost the milk levels and help the body recover quickly and efficiently, changing diapers, lulling the baby amongst many other topics.

Now, today we will cover challenges that come around in the first couple of months in parenting (2 – 5 months). At this stage, the crucial-most priority is to ensure immunisation dates and advice are followed to the letter. Parents should never afford to miss an immunisation date since the monitoring of an infant’s health progress is conducted through the scheduled dates. Above that, nothing should be of more importance than honouring these dates. Speaking of immunisation, injections are the scariest. This is because the infants are mostly very tender and delicate. At weeks 6, 10 and 14, injections are administered coupled with other oral dosages of vaccination just to uplift the infant’s immune. The next injection happens at the ninth month usually for measles otherwise in between week 15 to the 9th month, babies normally go for weight checkups while Vitamin A oral dosage is dispensed at the 6th month.

To a greater extent injections come with lots of challenges commonest of all being fever. And how do you tell an infant has fever? The recommended method is to use a thermometer. Speaking of which, all parents should endeavour to purchase a thermometer since they are never at a loss in estimating the body temperature of the baby. Usually, 37.2 degrees C. and above is an indication of a fever development and a reason for the parents to start worrying. Other ‘crude ways’ of diagnosing if a baby has fever is by placing one’s palm on the forehead or around the armpit. An experienced parent will realise if the temperature is unusually high.

There are home remedies that parents are encouraged to administer to lower the fever before they embark to the nearest hospital.  One remedy I can guarantee with my kidney is Calpol syrup. It offers reliefs from pain and fever associated with vaccination, teething, cold & flu and other childhood infections. Any unmanaged fever beyond that should be rushed to the nearest hospital. Speaking of hospitals; Parents should be extremely cautious about where they present their kids for medical attention. With all due respect to Clinical Officers, Physicians and all other Medical practitioners, if possible please identify a credible and reputable paediatrician to be handling your infant’s medical journey. Their medical history requires a specialist and consistent one for that matter. And since kids medical attention is highly sensitive and complex, you can only bet it with a paediatrician and not any other medical practitioner, not unless its an emergency that can’t wait.

During the scheduled immunisation dates you may realise the following; That your baby weight is not consistent or the injection was either administered wrongly or reacted with your baby’s skin. On matters weight – An infant’s weight is one of the major indicators of his/her health progress. I can promise you that you’ll have trouble with your MCH (Mother/Maternal Child Health) personnel if your baby is underweight or overweight. You see, once you commence the antenatal clinics you are issued with a booklet that is a record-keeping tool for the mother and child health journey up to the first 5 years of the child. In it is a graph that gives a guideline of an infant’s weight progress from the time of birth all the way to five years. The graph can easily indicate if the baby is under or overweight on a monthly basis.

It’s important to appreciate a baby is considered underweight at birth if he/she weighs less than 2.5 kilograms and overweight(obesity) if he/she has 5 or more kilograms. Underweight conditions for babies between the periods of birth to 6 months are mostly associated with the following; Poor quality of sucking either via breastfeeding or bottle-feeding, Inadequate number of feeding, Incorrect formula preparation, Poor feeding interactions (vomiting after feeding or care-giver assuming the baby is full), Poor quality mother’s milk mostly associated with low nutrition intake, Underfeeding, Underlying medical problems amongst many others. On the contrast, babies that struggle with obesity are mostly associated with feeding on formula-fed products as opposed to exclusive breastfeeding. This is because the former have a tendency of being overfed. Normally, breastfeeding is protective against obesity.  Pregnancies that had gestation diabetes are also very much likely to lead to an obese child. Another interesting fact is that parents that start weaning relatively earlier than the recommended stage of six months can lead to causing obesity to their kids or distorting their expected normal growth curve. Babies that are less active have a higher likelihood of being obese too.

On injections – An infant may develop a hard lump and redness at the injection site which means the body cannot process some or all types of the vaccine ingredients. The body may also be trying to fight the ‘toxins’ administered to it from being absorbed into the body and blood. The hard lump may disappear in a couple of days and one can massage the area with a warm hand towel to make it less severe. Most vaccine reactions fade away within 3 – 7 days otherwise one should seek medical attention beyond that.

As fast time parents, you’ll encounter so many myths about baby rashes and be made to believe they have everything to do with high temperatures and excessive body sweat. While there is rash known as sweat rash, as a parent it’s critical to demystify half-truths and realise there are over 20 types of rashes. For instance, we have rashes associated with food allergies that are resisted by the baby. This may include excessive consumption of wheat or egg products by the mother. There are rashes associated with the teething stage, Eczema which is a more long-term skin disorder requiring specialist treatment, Nappy rash, Impetigo rash, Milia rash, Newborn rash, Ringworm, Baby acne, rashes associated with woolen clothes and many more. Some skin rashes are also caused by parents who experiment with their babies on the many varieties of baby-products be it diapers, wet wipes, petroleum jelly and baby soaps. The more you try the latest or ‘cheapest’ product with your baby, the more reactive the baby skin behaves. Please note your baby is not a litmus paper to be tested on everything that is on offer. Be consistent and you’ll have less trouble. Bottom line on rashes: Visit your paediatrician after a week or so if the rashes don’t seem to disappear.

To mothers who are obsessed with appearing fit, shapely and in the ‘right size’ or what is termed as bouncing-back after pregnancy, it can have a heavy toll on the baby’s health progress. This is because they will try dieting and shelving off most of the highly nutritious foods just to meet unrealistic and unhealthy goals. While this may seem attractive to women who battle with increased weight, it comes with a tremendous negative impact on the infant’s health. You realise the baby feeds exclusively on milk at least for the first six months, hence while the mother concentrates on foods that are less likely to have high calories, quality of her breast milk is highly compromised hence leading to underweight issues to her baby. It has also been established that burning off weight too quickly may cause a woman’s fat cells to release contaminants into her breast milk.

To a great extent, dads are a no-show when it comes to the welfare of their babies. Many men are least interested and emotionally attached to their kids, which by the way weakens if not undeveloping the bond between them and their offsprings. Men have a tendency of hiding under cultural and social ethos that dictate it’s unmanly and weak to lull a baby to sleep or to assist in feeding them.  For your information, the bond between a dad and his child doesn’t happen in a fortnight nor is it magical, it is invested upon diligently day after day by taking time to being with their kids and showing interest in them.

Dear lost men, here are some of the major facts about kids brought up by dads who are close to them. Studies show that if a child’s father is affectionate, supportive, and involved, he can contribute greatly to a child’s cognitive, language, and social development, as well as academic achievement, a strong inner core resource, sense of well-being, good self-esteem, and authenticity. This is according to Dr.Gail Gross, a renown family, child development, human behaviour expert, author and educator from US. She further attests that a child’s primary relationship with his/her father can affect all of the child’s relationships from birth to death, including those with friends, lovers, and spouses. Those early patterns of interaction with a father are the very patterns that will be projected forward into all relationships…forever more: not only your child’s intrinsic idea of who he/she is as he/she relates to others, but also, the range of what your child considers acceptable and loving.

On matters maternal, we can’t really exhaust on the topics. Watch out for more in the future series. Best of luck for now!

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THE DEGREE SYNDROME

The anger over kids not getting into university speaks to how Kenya education has become a search for papers, rather than true learning which opens many doors at many different levels. Shouldn’t we perhaps interrogate our all-roads-lead-to-university model of schooling? – Gathara – Media personality

We are such a ridiculous nation that seemingly panics and vomits its lungs out all because one Dr. Matiang’i seems to be catching up with the cunning cartels at the Ministry of Education, TSC and Mtihani House. To the extent that a whole bunch of us have been reduced to do hues and cries and daring to tame bwana CS for what they term “mass failure”, is a joke of the year. That besides opportunistic politicians in the name of MCA’s who can barely express themselves in English left to whip emotions and emancipate cheap political mileages by storming schools to eject new Principals taking office in the new stations, is only a very sad affair. Did I also overhear and watch some parents jeer new school principals in front of their children reporting to school and accusing the head-teachers of poor track records in their former schools?

The lack of tolerance experienced with the new head-teachers’ transfers is unprecedented and perhaps underlying our inherent fears of being obsessed and trapped by the Degree syndrome. We don’t really care what our children will study in those campuses neither do we bother to care if it’ll be part of their passion. All we want them to do is score As whether faked or otherwise and go study courses they genuinely never would have qualified for, only to later miserably fail in their exams if not end up peeling off to incompetent Engineers or be it clueless Doctors if not unpassionate Computer Scientists who compromised their lecturers to award them with “favourable” grades.

Eventually, our economy gets trapped by disillusioned millennials performing jobs that they don’t even grasp the basics. What a tragedy are we succumbing to? Meanwhile, we pressure our politicians to score cheap goals by skinning a poor cabinet minister only executing and implementing his job description diligently. And since we are a country that celebrates mediocrity rather amazingly, here we are bombarded by shockwaves of a reality that has been turned around and mixed around all in tandem.

I can confirm to have interacted with a legion of fresh graduates who hardly seem to grasp the basics when they knock at our offices for attachment or employment opportunities. More surprisingly, their papers sharply contradict their personas in many instances. This alone is a hell-bent ordeal waiting to break loose to much of a shame for a country celebrating over 54 years of self-rule. As a matter of fact, students who pass through diploma level before joining campus seem to exude more seriousness and determination as opposed to the rest that just join campus to take on courses that were compelled by their cluster scores and not their own volition.

Long live the days when having a degree was the epitome of high intellectualism as opposed to our contemporary times where a degree is a mere conformity to a world driven by papers faked or forged and not substance in the form of passion-driven or talent nurtured. Iron sharpens iron and so does a country like Kenya seem to antagonise the posterity of education benchmarking. Basically, we are a nation that values more, wearing of gowns from some of the so-called campuses that have zero facilities leave alone reputable lecturers and where classes rarely have quorum apart from when exams draw near.

A bit of statistics; In 2014 Kenya had 3,073 ‘clean’ As, in 2015 had 2,636 in 2016 had 141 As while in 2017 had 142 As. While you ponder on the numbers appreciate that Dr.Matiang’i let out a confession that as early as 1990’s to 2015, exam marking was complete before Christmas holidays but wouldn’t be released just yet! Not before massaging of marks in the name of trading marks and selling of grades to the highest bidder for another two months. He further alluded that exams setting was being done over a year to the exam-commencing date to give room for leaking to interested stakeholders hence why some ‘National’ schools had the guts of attaining over 80% ‘clean’ As and A-minuses and failing to register a single A or partly less than 5 A-minuses post Matiang’i era.

While some of us complained that out of 615,772 students who wrote the 2017 KCSE exam only 176, 858 scored C- and above, the script wasn’t that different in the past; Students who scored C plus and above were 165,766 and 149,719 in 2015 and 2014 respectively. That is simply the fact.

There is hope though; Part of the benefits of the new system of education Kenya launched this year of 2-6-3-3 scraps off the obsession of ‘National Exams’ which to a very high extent built the pressure of cheating in exams. Students can now specialise in their areas of interest especially in senior secondary levels which includes Art subjects which were unceremoniously removed midway in the 8-4-4 system. The new system will also be skills-oriented rather than exam oriented where students will be moulded to all rounded personas. Talents will feature dominantly alongside their academic work unlike in the 8-4-4 system which neglected talent and focused solely on exams.

Speaking of Art which conspicuously missed in the 8-4-4 system as earlier pointed out, it’s now one of the best paying employment avenues Kenya is bragging off at the moment. In fact, the next generation will owe a lot of talent breakthroughs to the growth of Art in this country. The global media seem to have realised this and is highlighting a surge of intense interest in Pan-African Art. Some of the youngest and budding employers our country has, are doing big in matters Art investment. From Online Content Creators, Musicians, Photographers, Filmmakers, Atheists, Graphic Designs, Poets, Writers, Novel publishers and Painters just to name a few. And this has nothing to do with degree papers but purely passion that is self-dependent and not necessarily dictated by degree papers.

I’m not against university education no! I’m only opposed to the ideology that its the only road to success and that having a degree in Kenya is a matter of life and death. That shouldn’t be the case. To the parents, with all due respect don’t remain fixated on the 18th century where you condition your children to take specific careers that are a soft-spot to you and not them. If you pressure your kids to take certain courses that you so like, you are only living your dreams through them which clearly is setting them up for failure.

Let me leave it here; Show me a successful person who is living a fairly happy life working in a career he or she either has no passion or talent for?

 

 

 

 

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