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HiPP's A-Z of pregnancy & child health

The A-Z contains information on many aspects of pregnancy
and child health. It is arranged alphabetically so you can find what you are looking for with ease. If you are at all concerned about your health or your child’s health, please consult your health professional.

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This is where the breast (or breasts) becomes inflamed, lumpy and uncomfortable. It can happen in women at any time, but is more likely to develop during breastfeeding, particularly in the first month after giving birth. The most common reason for mastitis to occur is that the baby does not latch on properly and therefore the breast is not emptied properly. Mastitis may be caused by engorgement and/or blocked milk ducts, but if there is an infection present, antibiotic treatment may be necessary.

It is important to continue feeding and not stop (if you are experiencing difficulties feeding then you can express the milk by hand or with a pump). Apply warmth to the affected area, or have a warm bath or shower. If you are feeling unwell rest and take painkillers (your health visitor or GP will advise on the most suitable ones to use). Try to make sure that your breast is completely empty of milk after feeding to prevent the condition re-occurring.

Ask your health visitor or midwife for advice on feeding techniques or contact one of the breastfeeding support groups featured in our useful contacts.

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Maternity Benefits

For a guide to maternity benefits, access the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) website at www.dwp.gov.uk and request the leaflet N117A 'A Guide to Maternity Benefits'. Information on maternity and paternity benefits can also be found on www.direct.gov.uk/parents.

Your local Jobcentre Plus or the Citizens Advice Bureau will also be able to advise you about your rights at work and the benefits you can claim.

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This is a very contagious illness caused by a virus. It is not as common as it used to be since babies are now routinely vaccinated against measles. The MMR vaccine given to babies is a combined vaccine that gives protection against measles, mumps and rubella and the first dose is given around 13 months. If you think your baby or child may have measles, notify your doctor.

For more information see immunisation or visit www.immunisation.nhs.uk.

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During a baby’s time in the womb, waste matter builds up in his or her gut. This is expelled in the first day or two after the birth as dark, sticky, tar-like faeces. See bowel movements-babies for more information.

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Medicines For Babies

If your baby has a fever, or seems to be in pain, check with your doctor or pharmacist who will tell you whether a medicine such as children's liquid paracetamol or liquid ibuprofen would be suitable and what the relevant dosage is.

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Membrane Sweep

See ‘Sweep

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Viral meningitis is a relatively mild, flu-like condition, but bacterial meningitis (and its linked condition, septicaemia) is a very serious, life-threatening condition.

Meningitis is an infection of the lining on the brain. In babies and toddlers, early symptoms of bacterial meningitis can include any or all of the following: headache, fever, vomiting, joint or muscle pain, cold hands and feet, shivering. They may have pale, mottled skin, refuse food, be breathing rapidly and have an unusual moaning cry. The condition worsens rapidly and the sufferer may become very sleepy, floppy and unresponsive. In some cases there may be a rash on the body, which remains visible when pressed with a glass.

The glass test: press the side of a clear drinking glass firmly against the rash so you can see if the rash fades and loses colour under pressure. If it doesn't change colour, contact your doctor immediately or seek other medical assistance.

If you suspect meningitis, you should always seek medical assistance immediately.

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Babies vary considerably in the age at which they reach physical developmental milestones.

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Milk Spots/Milia

These are tiny white spots that often occur on the face in newborn babies. They usually clear by about 6 weeks. Gently wash the skin with warm water and pat dry. Avoid touching or squeezing spots or applying any lotions or creams.

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Most miscarriages occur during the first 13 weeks and it’s been estimated that around one in six recognised pregnancies end this way.

Symptoms include heavy bleeding, backache and stomach pains. Contact your doctor, midwife or hospital if you bleed at any time during your pregnancy or if you begin to have pains. But remember that bleeding does not necessarily mean you are miscarrying. And if you are bleeding because you are miscarrying it is unlikely anything you do or don’t do will stop it. A miscarriage is nobody’s fault and many women who have had several miscarriages go on to have normal pregnancies and births.

The Miscarriage Association (www.miscarriageassociation.org.uk) has a helpline on 01924 200 799 (Mon-Fri, 9am - 4pm).

You’ll also find further information on www.direct.gov.uk/ and www.tommys.org.

For information about ectopic pregnancies, please go to: www.ectopicpregnancy.co.uk/

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Morning Sickness

The common name for nausea and sickness often experienced during early pregnancy, morning sickness can happen morning, noon and night!

Snacking on plain foods such as crackers can help. Keep some by your bed and, when you first wake up, nibble a few crackers and then rest for a while before getting up. It often helps to eat little and often. Wrist acupressure bands may help, and also ginger tablets or syrup.

Morning sickness usually gradually wears off towards the end of the first trimester and stops around the 16th to 20th week.

Have a look at our list of ideas on foods/snacks/measures that can help with morning sickness. 

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Multiple Births

If you are expecting twins, they will either originate from one egg and be identical (usually sharing the same placenta), or they will originate from two fertilised eggs, not be identical, and each have their own placenta. Your pregnancy will be closely monitored and you are more likely to undergo a caesarean section.

If you are expecting two (or more!) babies, there are several organisations offering information and support. These include:

The Multiple Births Foundation: www.multiplebirths.org.uk (Telephone: 0208 383 3519 e-mail: info@multiplebirths.org.uk)

TAMBA (Twins and Multiple Births Association): www.tamba.org.uk/ (Telephone 0870 770 3305 or Freephone Tamba Twinline 0800 138 0509, evenings and weekends)

Home-Start is a charitable organisation offering support to families: www.home-start.org.uk.

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A viral illness, mumps causes inflammation and swelling of glands inside the jaw. It is rarely seen in babies and children since the MMR vaccine gives protection against mumps as well as measles and rubella.

For more information see immunisation or visit www.immunisation.nhs.uk.

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Have you got a question?

If you want more advice, please ask a question or visit our forum.

Otherwise, please get in touch with the HiPP Baby Club.