Covid-19, HEALTH AND WELLBEING, PREGNANCY, SELF-CARE

HOW’S YOUR HEART THIS VALENTINES DAY?

@cardiomyopathyuk hashtag #beatingfortwo

What is Peripartum Cardiomyopathy?

Peripartum cardiomyopathy (or PPCM) happens during pregnancy, usually starting between the final month of pregnancy and the first five months after giving birth. In PPCM the woman’s heart becomes enlarged and its pumping action weakened. 

PPCM is similar to dilated cardiomyopathy, in that it affects the left ventricle of the heart. This is the main pumping chamber of the heart: pumping blood out of the heart and to the rest of the body. Normally the left ventricle pumps blood out of the heart efficiently, with enough pressure to reach all areas of the body. In PPCM, the left ventricle chamber becomes enlarged. As the ventricle becomes bigger than normal, the muscular wall becomes stretched and thinner. This makes the muscle weaker which, in turn, means that it works less well. 

Why is it important now, in the midst of a pandemic?

Even without the pandemic it’s an issue that was overlooked, despite the damage it can cause to women and their families. Symptoms are often missed or misdiagnosed. But when you add the pandemic lens, people are less vigilant as their focus is on Covid symptoms, and are less likely to seek medical help. Because awareness of the condition is currently so low, opportunities to detect and treat PPCM early are being missed, and as a result, women’s lives are being put at risk. 

75% of people mistake symptoms of heart conditions as ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy 

Cardiomyopathy UK urges the public and healthcare professionals to recognise cardiac symptoms in women and take action to cut maternal deaths

  • 70% of people are unaware of serious heart conditions that can develop during and after pregnancy 
  • 75% of people think common cardiac symptoms are ‘normal’ to experience during and after pregnancy 
  • 55% would be more cautious about seeking medical help as a result of concerns over Covid-19
  • Cardiomyopathy UK launches Beating for Two to raise awareness of serious heart conditions, like peripartum cardiomyopathy, that develop during and after pregnancy

Cardiomyopathy UK has launched its new campaign, Beating for Two, to raise awareness of the potentially life-threatening heart muscle disease, peripartum cardiomyopathy (PPCM), which can develop during the last part of, or in the first few months after, pregnancy. 

New research commissioned by the charity shows the majority of people (70%) are unaware that serious heart conditions such as PPCM can develop during and after pregnancy. And in a small survey of patients and the family of those who have been diagnosed with PPCM, prior to diagnosis, 98% were unaware that serious heart conditions can occur during and after pregnancy. 

While people are better at spotting more obvious cardiac symptoms such as chest pain and heart palpitations, three quarters (75%) of those surveyed think common cardiac symptoms are ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy, and 66% wouldn’t seek medical help if they were to experience them.

Some of the less obvious cardiac symptoms, which often get overlooked but could signal a serious heart problem, such as PPCM, include:

  • tiredness completing everyday tasks
  • shortness of breath when at rest or lying down
  • sudden swelling of the ankles
  • excessive and rapid weight gain 

Top reasons people gave for not seeking medical help if they or a loved one were experiencing PPCM symptoms include ‘assuming the symptoms are ‘normal’ during pregnancy’ (58%), ‘assuming symptoms will go away on their own’ (32%), ‘fear of being viewed as overreacting or fussy’ (29%) – something which is higher in women than men (32% to 26%) – and ‘feeling guilty for using the NHS’s time’ (24%). 

The campaign is timely and of paramount importance as the data shows the pandemic has had an impact on people’s behaviour, with 55% saying that because pregnant women are in a higher risk category, they would be more cautious about seeking medical help as a result of concerns over Covid-19.

Cardiovascular disease is the most common cause of maternal death in the UK, with PPCM accounting for one-third of cardiovascular maternal deaths. However, because awareness of the condition is low, opportunities to detect and treat the condition early are being missed, and as a result, women’s lives are being put at risk.

When showing concern over symptoms, 45% of those in the Patient Survey who have been diagnosed with PPCM, were told symptoms were ‘normal’ during and after pregnancy.

Through its Beating for Two campaign, Cardiomyopathy UK wants to make it easier for women and their families to spot the signs of PPCM, and to feel confident seeking medical help sooner.

Survey respondents indicated that, if they knew more about which symptoms were ‘normal’ and ‘not normal’ during and after pregnancy, 66% would feel more confident raising concerns with a healthcare professional. 

The charity also wants healthcare professionals to ‘think heart’ when considering symptoms, and to ask about history of medical problems that run in the family to ensure PPCM symptoms are not being mistaken as ‘normal’.

Joel Rose, Chief Executive of Cardiomyopathy UK, says:

“During pregnancy, an expectant mother’s heart is put under additional pressure as it adapts to keeping two humans alive. This incredible organ is beating for two, but we don’t always give it the recognition and attention it deserves. While PPCM is thankfully rare, its effects can be devastating if left undetected. 

“However, the condition is completely manageable if caught early and most women who are diagnosed live healthy and fulfilling lives. 

“We know women often put their needs to the bottom of the priorities list, but we urge people to trust their instincts and to watch for signs that their heart might be struggling to cope, during pregnancy and after birth. 

“If you feel that something isn’t right speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor.” 

Cardiomyopathy UK is working hard to ensure better recognition of the symptoms so that every woman with PPCM is diagnosed in time to manage the condition safely.

Sascha Wells-Munroe OBE, Deputy Chief Midwifery Officer for England, says: 

“It is vital that any woman with any cause for concern about her or her baby’s health speak to their midwife or maternity team without delay. It can be easy to think that symptoms like tiredness or shortness of breath are ‘normal’ but, no matter how big or small a symptom might be, please seek advice – the NHS is here for you. 

“Alongside our NHS ‘Help Us Help You’ maternity resources, campaigns like Cardiomyopathy UK’s ‘Beating for Two’ provide critical reminders that it’s just as important as ever to seek help from maternity services and it’s so crucial that women and healthcare professionals alike ‘think heart’ to make sure no opportunities to keep women and babies safe and healthy are missed.”

For more advice and information about the signs and symptoms to look for, and what is ‘normal’ and what is not during and after pregnancy, visit: http://bit.ly/2YmaUF4

About Cardiomyopathy UK

Cardiomyopathy UK is the national charity for people affected by the heart muscle diseases cardiomyopathy and myocarditis. We provide support and information services, work to raise awareness of the condition, campaign for better access to quality treatment and promote research.

Stay Present,

Em x

Photo by Suhyeon Choi on Photo by Marcin Jozwiak on Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Photo by Giulia Bertelli on Photo by SJ Objio on Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Home Schooling, PANDEMIC PARENTING, Proactive Parenting

Pandemic, Parenting, Problems – HOMESCHOOLING

It seems unlikely that schools will reopen until March. For many of us parents that means -continued, pandemic, parenting, problems.

Home-schooling’s one daily grind we’re all struggling with and our frustration is at its breaking point. Many of us feel like giving up but its best to stay involved and take baby steps.

They’ll learn a lot more from little and often than from not at all.

So, here’s some pointers to help guide us when helping our children to learn;

LEARNING MODALITIES

Every child will have a preferred way of learning. Identifying their preferred method or modality will make learning more interesting and fun. 

Some prefer;

  • Listening—this is called ‘Auditory learning’.
  • Watching— ‘Visual learners’.
  • Others prefer a more, hands-on approach— ‘Kinaesthetic learning’ also known as ‘tactile learning’ by doing.

CREATIVITY

There’s always more than one way to learn, that’s why there’s no need limiting our children to ‘the right way’ thinking. Allow them to explore all the options and to choose one that feels right to them. By doing things differently to the norm, our children become more flexible and comfortable in new learning endeavours.

RELEASE THE PRESSURE AND HAVE FUN

Pressure to perform and achieve is what causes children anxiety and what sucks all the ease, fun, and enjoyment out of learning something new. When children are having fun, it doesn’t feel like learning, and If they don’t have any obvious expectations imposed upon them, they become free from the burden of being perfect and relax. Relaxation is the key to creativity and clear focused thinking. Having fun in the process makes things easier for us and more enjoyable for our children, so try playing games as opposed to lecturing or just reeling off answers.

LET THEM LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES

It’s natural we want our children to do well but if we become too involved and take over, we miss the point of what the learning objective is. When children are set school work, the whole point of the exercise is for our children to learn from their mistakes by doing it themselves, and enjoying the process.

BUT WHY?

Our children have to have a why.

Why do I need to know this?

The answer to that question becomes their motive, which is vital because the key to motivation in life is having a motive. 

Why? What? Where? When? And How? All are incessant questions of our young. If we can just keep answering these, they will be constantly learning something new every day!

DON’T BE AN OBVIOUS TEACHER

If they are disinterested in learning activities, we need to ask ourselves the following questions;

  • Is this appropriate for my child’s age or stage of development or am I reading such a simple book, my five-year-old could read it to them-self?
  • Is the content/activity interesting?
  • Am I engaging my child enough?
  • Am I actually interested myself, or am I bored and disinterested?
  • Do they think there’s a purpose to the activity other than having fun or spending time together?
  • Have I taken them away from another activity or toy that they were enjoying playing with?

The biggest influence that we can have is our own enthusiasm and interest. When we are engaged, learning comes to life and stimulates them more. 

STAY CALM

so many of us get frustrated easily when teaching our children, particularly when we’ve already taught them how to do something and they get it wrong. Let’s say they’re learning how to read. Just because they could read the word ‘dog’ yesterday, doesn’t mean they’ll remember it automatically today. They may still get confused and call it ‘bog’ the next day, d and b are the same as learning anything else, they take time, and are easy to mix up and confuse.

We think it’s easy because we can read already, and have more than likely read daily for many years, which adds up to a lot of reading practice.

Reading is still new to our children though. It’s like us learning a second language such as German, and someone expecting us to know and recognize words straight away. Then whenever we forget or get a word wrong, they get annoyed with us. I doubt we would still feel encouraged to carry on learning the language then?

Nothing is easy for our children, unless they can do it, in which case, they wouldn’t need our help in the first place.

Stay Present,

Em x

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay and on Unsplash Priscilla Du Preez Sigmund Steven Libralon JESHOOTS.COM Robo Wunderkind Varvara Grabova Marcel Strauß

BOOKS, CHILDMINDING

Back to Business

Welcome back all 😊 we hope you had a lovely Christmas?

This year we have a new website address and email.

New Web & Email address but the same great, free, parenting & childcare content!

Don’t forget to add this new address to your safe senders list, so your newsletters don’t go to your junk email box, as from now on they’ll be sent from this new address.

It’s been a tough few month for all of us but we are slowly and steadily getting through this pandemic together. Thanks for all your support.  We would also like to thank the children too as we know it’s a very difficult time for them as well, especially with the schools being closed. Although we have endeavoured to make this time as ‘normal’ as possible, it’s not easy occupying children of various ages, altogether for full days, without any trips out to the park or soft play. There’s no break to the day, not even to go on school runs, so we have been couped up indoors due to Lockdown and the weather. I’m sure the children have had enough of hearing – ‘Stop jumping on the sofa.’ Lol 😊

It’s understandable that they’re trying to expend some energy and that they will bicker with one another too. We’ve made a special effort to instil the sharing mentality during this lockdown, this is a difficult concept for pre-schoolers. To help with these issues, we’ve practised some guided meditations to aid relaxation and to relieve worries. The children have taken to this very well and stayed the whole 25 minutes for each meditation, doing the actions and keeping their eyes closed.

Guided Meditations.

ACHIEVEMENTS & SHOUT OUTS

One of our little ones has done amazingly with her potty training, well done, we are so proud of you 😊

Our littlest has learnt to stand and walk independently and is increasing his steps day by day! He also recently celebrated his 1st Birthday.

Thank You!

A massive thank you to those parents who have taken the time to buy, read and review my books. I’m so grateful for the support received and very I’m proud that both of my books have achieved Amazon, worldwide best seller status. Notably, The Confident Parent’s Guide to Raising a Happy, Healthy & Successful Child received a staggering 2, 061 downloads over 4 days. The Confident Parents’ Guide also achieved International Best Seller Status across 13 categories in the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France and Germany [achieving at least Top 10]), including 8 #1 ranks across the USA, UK, Canada, Australia, France and Germany, and International Best Seller status across an additional 6 categories in the UK, Australia, France and Germany (by Amazon’s Top 100 standard).

Audio book now available from Audible, Amazon & iTunes!

The Powerful Proactive Parents’ Guide to Present Parenting, achieved International Best Seller Status across 9 categories in the USA, UK, Canada and Australia [achieving at least Top 10]), including 5 #1 ranks across the USA, UK, Canada and Australia, and International Best Seller status across an additional 7 categories in the aforementioned countries, with the inclusion of India (by Amazon’s Top 100 standard).

Audio books available from iTunes, Audible & Amazon.

I’m also really excited that both of my books will be featured in the spring and summer editions of Mums and Tots Magazine, following the Q&A I wrote for them on Managing Expectations at Christmas in their winter edition.

Mums and tots magazine, winter edition, out now to buy.

We hope that this worldwide situation will improve in the coming months.

Play is a tiring business so that’s all for now 😊

Stay safe, Stay Present,

Em x

Uncategorized

WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR 2021?

At the beginning of every New Year, I sit down and plan my year ahead. I write down my dreams, desires and goals.

Then I compile a list of ‘To Do’s’ to help me achieve them, which usually motivates me to get going.

To get busy weaving my dreams into reality.

But one thing 2020 has taught me is that, even my best laid plans can go awry. Although I had big goals for last year, the most important ones I achieved were not through planning or doing but through unforeseen circumstances and just going with the flow and ‘being’.

Spending more family ‘Us Time’ present in the moment and feeling relaxed and content just doing nothing, happened naturally during lockdown.

Having time to get both of my books completed and published arose from a misfortunate Covid-19 set of circumstances, forcing me to close my childcare business for months.

Appreciating friends and family more was another side effect of being kept apart from those I loved.

And being grateful for everything I had, such as my business, my home and family became enough to make me stop and see that- I already had everything I needed and wanted in life.

So today on January the 1st 2021, as I sit in the warm glow of sweet-scented candlelight, notebook and pen in hand, ready to plan 2021, there’s only one goal on my list this year and that’s simply to enjoy each and every moment with those I love.

What’s your goals for 2021?

Stay Present,

Em x

Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

Covid-19, LOVE, MEMORIES, Proactive Parenting, Stay Present, U Time

THE PRESENT- WHAT CHRISTMAS GIFTS CAN COME OUT OF COVID?

Well Christmas is fast approaching and New Year is looming ahead. Many of us I’m sure will be happy to see the back of 2020!

With My Mother and Stepdad being in hospital poorly with COVID-19 for a couple of weeks, I know I will. Thankfully they came home two days ago but their homecoming was a bitter sweet moment for me as, the day before I had received my late brothers ashes, a stark reminder of the balance between life and death and the glue of love that holds us all together. But with the UK being the first to administer this new COVID-19 vaccine last week, we’ve a lot to be hopeful for moving into 2021.

For that period when they were in hospital with Covid -19 everything seemed so uncertain and I just want to thank everyone at the Heath Hospital Cardiff for taking such good care of them both. I’d also like to thank everyone for your support and well wishes. I hope that you and your loved ones will be able to spend time in the ‘present’ together, enjoying the festivities in your own little bubbles.

WHAT GIFTS CAN COME OUT OF COVID?

More than ever before, I’m sure we can all now appreciate everyone in our lives and the gifts they share with us. If 2020 and COVID-19 have brought us anything positive, let it be the gift of awareness and being present at all times with those we love. This Christmas we can all appreciate that, it’s not about the ‘presents’ but about ‘being present’ that counts. Being grateful for those people in our lives that bring us love and joy and weighing up the real gifts we receive of health, love, friends, family, food and shelter.

This year has been heavily imbued with seriousness. COVID-19 has caused a lot of worry, stress and anxiety. But as parents this Christmas, let’s try to lighten up a little and not take everything too seriously. We won’t win any prizes for being the most serious parent, but we will win the support of our children if we have fun with them.

Who cares that; we’ve burnt the turkey, we couldn’t secure that one sell out toy or didn’t get the right gifts, or that there’s no Christmas party and our toddler won’t eat sprouts?

Lets try not to sweat the small stuff – and as Richard Carlson reminds us ‘…and its all small stuff’ anyway. In the grander scheme of things and with the current world pandemic, none of that is important. If this year has taught us anything, it’s that we can’t control everything that happens in life.  So, let’s let go of control and learn to relax and go with the flow a bit more to reduce unnecessary stress.

KEEP STRESS LEVELS DOWN?

You can do this by taking daily you time (U Time) for yourself to just relax. Whether that’s a soak in the bath after a long day or sitting down with a cuppa, taking time to breathe, in the here and now and get organised in your head, reduces stress.

YOUR CHILD IS A GIFT ENJOY THE PRESENT

Our children are the present, they are a gift to us, and they are here with us now, at this present moment in time. And Present Parenting (devoting our time and attention in the present moment) is the best gift that we can give to them.

It’s never about what we do as parents, it’s how we do it, how we feel, and how our children feel as a result that matters. And making sure our time together is happy and relaxed and that we look forward to it as much as our children do.

THINK MORE CHILD LIKE

Children are naturally present in each and every moment. They see the world and are in awe of its beauty and newness, they’re not tired of life. They enjoy exploring all it has to offer and have all the time in the world to stand and stare. The school run is a chance for them to appreciate the beautiful blue sky with white, fluffy clouds making unusual shapes.

They muse at the sun shining on the dew drops, glistening as they dance on the lush green blades of grass. This beautiful love of life and nature is the reason why children wake up so early in the morning. They are excited about the adventure that lay ahead each day, and they don’t want to miss out on anything or waste time sleeping. To children, the journey is as relevant as the destination. They couldn’t care less about the pointless pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, they’re more interested in the beautiful colours of the rainbow itself. If we can remember to think more like them again as we once did as children, this makes life a lot easier and more enjoyable, not only for our children but for us too.

We can practise this whenever our children wake us up early in the morning. Instead of getting annoyed, we could welcome their presence as the best wakeup alarm there is, reminding us that it’s another fresh, new day, and that we are alive, well, and loved.

I know we’re tired, busy, and don’t have the time to waste standing and staring at trees and clouds. But do we have time not to?

Besides, the daily commute to work/school/shops or wherever else we need to go, it still takes a journey to get there, whether we stop to notice all the splendour around us or stress out about the traffic.

If only for today, let’s try to think more childlike.

It may sound a bit childish at first, but being more childlike is the core to being present.

Manage Expectations

As a Mum myself I know this can be difficult and Christmas comes with such high expectations from everyone, but Life, Covid-19 or not, will never be perfect. Neither will we ever be perfect parents or have perfect children. ( If you’re interested in why we wouldn’t want perfect children or to be perfect parents? Or would like to know the benefits of coaching behaviour and managing expectations while being a ‘Present Parent’, we are offering a limited amount of free, review audio books to our readers and listeners, from the release of our audio books on Audible and iTunes. If you’d like to review a free audio book of – The Powerful Proactive Parents Guide to Present Parenting, or you know someone else who maybe interested, email me

emma@happychildcare.club and I’ll email you a free code:-)

Stay Present

In the meantime, to remain calm amid the chaos, stay present- it’s the gift that keeps on giving. Christmas is a special time for family and friends to come together and enjoy. Forget everything and focus on the here and now. When mindful in the moment, you’ll start enjoying time with your child. Forget what you didn’t do or buy and stop worrying about how tomorrow will work out.

Christmas is a memory making moment, make happy Christmas memories your child will cherish, and enjoy this time yourself. Build that Lego castle, watch that family movie together and stay present in each and every moment.  

For more top tips for staying present this Christmas, you can read more in the Nov/Dec free issue of families Cardiff and the vale– the Christmas special https://bit.ly/familiescardiff_christmas2020 or in mums and tots magazine out now to buy https://www.mumsandtots.ie/

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and fun 2021!

Until next time, stay safe, healthy and present!

Em x

Photos by Tim Marshall olly allars

HiveBoxx Tanaphong Toochinda

Jonnelle Yankovich on Unsplash