Authors Posts by Dr Surbhi Seth

Dr Surbhi Seth

I am a doctor and a public health specialist from Delhi. I have expertise in Obstetrics & Gynecology, child health and vaccinations. Formerly I worked with WHO’s immunization program in rural India as a technical consultant. I believe that accurate and relevant health information is the key to positive behavioral change subsequently leading to good health. I am an ardent traveler and a passionate writer.

Very Early Symptoms of Pregnancy: Keep Calm I am Pregnant

Very Early Symptoms of Pregnancy

A week ago you missed your period and you discovered that you are pregnant!! Your test result confirmed this and your joy is beyond any limitations. But you may not be aware that your body has already shifted gears to help you nourish your baby in utero grow. For Next few weeks you shall be experiencing many very early symptoms of pregnancy as your body and mind are reacting towards the new atmosphere inside.

‘Look how sluggish I feel!!’

‘I don’t feel like going to work!’

‘Why am I nauseated all the time?’

Many more quote like these and you are good to go through your first trimester of pregnancy. Of course missed period is the first and foremost noticeable sign of being pregnant, but one may also feel a few symptoms within 1-2 weeks after that.

Four Very Early Symptoms of Pregnancy

  • Sluggishness or fatigue: One of the first signs of pregnancy that may strike you within few days or sometimes even before misses your period. One may feel lacking spirit for any task at hand. Physical slowness may also leave you feel disinterested.
  • Morning sickness: Nausea and those acidity attacks may leave you little disappointed. I have heard many complaining of acidity in morning accompanied by vomiting or serious urge to vomit. Uncontrolled vomiting should be reported to doctor immediately. She/he may prescribe you medicine for immediate control. Usually it is controlled naturally within 3 months.
  • Raised body temperature: sudden increase in progesterone level occurs in early pregnancy in order to sustain pregnancy and thicken the lining in uterus. This causes a raised basal body temperature. There is nothing to be worried about. But raised temperature 100 f or above demand a physician consultation.
  • Mild spotting: This may be implantation bleed which might have happens after 1-2 weeks of ovulation. This is usually very mild. Sometimes it will happen even before you suspect you are pregnant. Every bleed after or around conception should be discussed with your doctor.

One may also feel aversion to food, tendency to urinate frequently, breast tenderness now or in coming 1 month. The earliest symptoms may not be same for everyone. Talking and discussing and getting a right opinion are necessary. Indulge into book reading, good music, avoid standing for long and report any black outs or fainting attacks immediately. Happy Nine months and beyond!!

Pinks and Blues of First Time Pregnancy

first time pregnancy

Two pink lines change your life beyond your imagination. Be it a planned pregnancy or an unplanned one, first time pregnancy will wrap you with an overwhelming blanket of emotions. No matter what the situation is, this beautiful journey remains as most cherished time among many women I’ve known. The term of pregnancy is divided into 3 trimesters roughly having three months each.

First Time Pregnancy at a Glance

Talk to your spouse: Make him a part of this pregnancy in every way possible. It’s hard to digest for a father. Trust me, my husband did not take my pregnancy seriously till the time he could really see my bulging tummy.

Due date calculation made easy: Use any due date calculator available on internet and know when your ‘bundle of joy’ is arriving.

Consult your doctor: monthly visits are planned till the end of second trimester, then fortnightly and in last two weeks its weekly. You must not miss on your appointments with your attending OBGY when she herself has planned your visit. It is necessary to run a few test like hemoglobin, TORCH infections, Hepatitis B, HIV, Measles, rubella, chickenpox etc to ensure your wellbeing. Ultrasounds shall also be planned for each trimester. In any condition, ensure minimum of 3 visits, one each for each trimester with all the basic tests and ultrasound done.

Nutrition: Concentrate on balanced diet rather than adding calories. Consume good amount of water to avoid constipation. Nutritional supplements as advised by your OBGY are a must. Get the Best Diet During Pregnancy.

Working moms: Many women these days prefer to work as long as they can even till the last day of pregnancy. Depending on your stamina, support given, choice, travel required you can choose to work. Discuss your working condition with your doctor and make an informed choice.

Morning sickness: The most common blues of first time pregnancy is the morning sickness. Lethargic mood, with nausea is quite evident in the first trimester. Usually you should be fine when you hit second trimester.

Warning signs: Any amount of bleeding, haziness, visual disturbance, sudden fall, lack of baby movements, cramps, excessive watery discharge, rashes, fever, diarrhea ,headache, vomiting ,swelling in feet should be immediately reported to doctor.

Do the planning around birth:  Third trimester is the best time to plan the following. The place of delivery, medical insurance documents, place of post delivery care, hired support needed with post delivery, baby clothes, diapers, feeding pillow, nursing brassiere etc. Keep the hospital bag ready.

A few handy tips for first time pregnancy

  • Wear comfortable non slippery footwear
  • Keep the night lamp/bulb on in room and bathroom at night
  • Keep a snack box( biscuits, banana, sweet etc ) always near your pillow
  • Get a list of medications allowed for common ailments from your OBGY
  • Wear comfortable clothing. I would recommend pair of maternity pajamas.
  • Enjoy the glow, shiny long hair and pamper yourself.

Best Diet During Pregnancy | Pregnancy Diet Plan

diet during pregnancy

During pregnancy nutrient demand of the body increases and it becomes critical to imbibe a healthy diet for appropriate growth and development of baby according to period of gestation. One thing is clear that you need to switch to the best diet during pregnancy  according to stage of pregnancy so that intake of adequate nutrients is ensured to you and your baby. Instead of focusing on weight gain, one should be concerned about the nutrients to add.

Although there will be plethora of advice available with you time to time during pregnancy, it is always best to go read through resources and discuss with your attending physician or health worker. Your doctor may also recommend a diet during pregnancy chart once you enter your second trimester.

We shall here discuss trimester wise most important food items to be included in your regular diet suitable for most of the pregnancies.

Best Diet During Pregnancy

‘First trimester: Welcoming the new life within you’

  • Folate/Folic Acid: The most important ingredient in your diet has to be ‘folate’. Folic acidis the most vitamins from the moment you try for a baby until the end of week 12 of your pregnancy. If not already taking, your doctor shall advice you supplements of folate and also folate rich food like green leafy vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, spinach, Brussels sprouts, spring greens, kale, okra and fresh peas.

Benefits: Folic acid prevents nueral tube defects in the baby; by taking enough folates you give your baby healthy spine, an active brain and nervous system.

  • Bedside biscuits/ banana / some nuts : Do not go to sleep empty stomach. Always keep something ready to munch on for mid night cravings. Yes , you will feel hungry midnight and nauseous in the morning. If you eat a mid night meal in forms of banana, some nuts and some biscuits, you shall be saved from morning acidity attack and nausea.
  • Lemonade/ Lime soda : Once a day a few sips of lemonade (sweet plus salt) will go a long way curbing nausea.
  • Small and frequent meals. Do not fill the whole plate or bowl with food.

Second Trimester: ‘I feel you as I feed you’

  • Calcium, Magnesium and Vitamin D rich food: Your baby is developing bones now. So food like avocado, broccoli, green beans, cabbage, carrots, yogurt, cheese, and dried fruit should be added and consumed in ore quantity.
  • Soups: Make soups with tomato, carrots, capsicum, and cabbage and consume every day. Consume chicken soup.
  • Milk: I am sure, now that your nausea is gone, love for milk is back. At least two glasses of milk should be consumed in one day plus one katori of yogurt in afternoon.
  • Proteins: During the later stages of second trimester, your baby will be gaining weight as a faster pace. Start having an extra bowl of dal, sprouts each day. This will not only help baby grow but also add to your pregnancy glow and shiny hair.
  • Supplements: Do not forget Iron and calcium supplements.
  • Lots of water, roughage to avoid constipation.

Third Trimester: ‘The more you kick, the more I shall eat’

Congratulations! Your baby is in full activity mode now. You might feel hungrier and sometime wonder where all the food has gone. Eat every two hours. Have at least 6-7 small meals including snacks.

  • Lots and Lots of Proteins: Your baby has developed almost all parts of body by now. It’s time to grow in a healthier manner.  It’s the proteins that are going to do the wonders. Your doctor may also prescribe you protein powder for the same.
  • Sooji Ki Kheer / Semolina Porridge: Easiest to make, tummy filling, gives right amount of carbs, proteins and Vitamin D.
  • Large portions of meals will help baby gain weight. Consume paranthas in breakfast. Extra bowl of pulses and veggies in lunch and dinner, added ghee will go a long way.
  • Water, roughage and supplements to continue

What is compromised diet?

Diet which is more than or less than recommended is called a compromised diet. By the word itself, we can learn that it will compromise on mother as well as foetal growth. Compromised diet will lead to excessive or less weight gain, foetal growth disturbances also growth retardation in foetus.

What not to eat in pregnancy?

  • Uncooked and raw eggs
  • Uncooked meet
  • Alcohol
  • Open juice is to be consumed only if it is hygienically prepared at home.
  • Canned Juice to be avoided as it will only provide you with calories and very less nutrients. Prefer whole fruit as compared to juice.

Dengue and Chikungunya: Prevention at Our end

Dengue and Chikungunya

Rain Rain go away… Come again another day…!! The poem now makes a greater sense. These days, when it rains, more than being excited about pakodas and chai, now we are dreaded with the diseases the rain brings with itself. Flu, running nose, typhoid and viral fevers are the most commonly talked about topics in each house. Apart from these, two new diseases that have entered our world and are dominating news channels, social media, politicians, friends and relatives are Dengue and Chikungunya.

No matter how much information is bombarded on news channels, still we tend to miss out on simple preventive measures of these diseases as we are not fully aware how it is caused. Once we are aware of the mechanism of transmission, then only we can take full proof steps at our end to protect our families.

Transmission of Dengue and Chikungunya

Both Dengue and Chikungunya are viral diseases. The virus is spread by biting of infected mosquito. This infected mosquito spreads the infection from one infected person to another. This mosquito is known as female Aedes aegyptii. This mosquito bites in the day time as opposed to malaria mosquito that bites in night time.

Symptoms of Dengue and Chikungunya

Dengue and Chikungunya both are viral fevers with same transmission route and almost same symptoms. Clinically differentiating them may be difficult but it is very important to identify as dengue has severe complication.

  • Chills with High fever: Fever in Chikungunya can reach upto 104 F. Higher fever is seen Chikungunya as compared to dengue
  • Nausea and vomiting: seen in both of them including lack of appetite, weakness
  • Rashes on the body surface: In dengue, rashes are mainly seen on limbs and face whereas in Chikungunya they are seen on trunk, face , feet and palms
  • Bad headache: severe headache is complained of in both cases
  • Muscle and joint pain. Joint pains, muscle pain in back and neck muscle are predominant in both. Infact dengue is known for its ‘’bone breaking fever
  • Retro bulbar pain(pain behind eye balls): eyeball pain is more seen in dengue
  • Complications: Dengue is known for its hemorrhagic complications where one can heavily bleed starting from nose bleed, shock and difficulty in breathing. In Chikungunya around 10 % patients may develop long lasting joint pain

Dengue and Chikungunya Prevention

Two important strategies are there to prevent spread of disease from one infected person to another:

  • Breaking the cycle of transmission by protecting one self.
  • Stopping this mosquito to breed as the most common site of breeding of these mosquitoes is man made containers having stagnant water.

What are the things that are easily and practically do-able?

  • Wear full length clothing especially for lower limbs.
  • Empty the water container buckets, containers, coconut shells etc. One can cover them, if they cannot be emptied.
  • Do not over water the plants as it creates stagnant water in the pots even after the plant has absorbed the required water. Clean lower pots regularly.
  • Use of mosquito bed nets is highly advisable for infants and pregnant others.
  • Larger bed nets can be used for entirely family.
  • Check if the doors and window net is broken, kindly get it repaired or cover the hole by anything. The idea is to prevent mosquito from entering the house
  • Use of mosquito repellent creams his highly advisable
  • Mosquito repellant stickers are also available which can be used for kids
  • It is said that planting Tulsi also prevents mosquito from entering
  • Burning camphor also proves beneficial

Lab test and cure

The doctor would like to get some blood test run in order to confirm the diagnosis. Most commonly rising titers of Immunoglobulin is checks which marks and active infection. Also virus specific tests are also done. If suspecting dengue, then daily counts of platelets are done to see the deterioration or recovery of the patient.

See a doctor if you suspect any of the above mentioned symptoms.

  • For both the diseases, there is no specific treatment available. Symptomatic relief in form of painkillers and anti pyretic can be taken. Aspirin should be avoided totally.
  • Lots and lots of water, coconut water is recommended.
  • Calamine lotion for rashes. No steroids should be used
  • Ayurveda and homeopathic drugs also claim to give relief from symptoms.
  • In times of complications, intravenous fluids, platelets transfusion may be required.

Developmental Milestone: Fun way of Growing | Child Development

developmental milestone

All parents wish to see their child grow and interact not only with them but also with the outside world. Every parent cherishes the fact that their child responds to their action and feels blessed to have that cute smile running on her face. Interesting fact being no two children, not even twins have the same pattern of achieving his/her skill, which is often known as the ‘Developmental Milestones’. The developmental milestone is referred as things/activities that most children can do by a certain age.

Most of these developments/skills are quite specific to the age of the baby, and are often considered to have been developed by:

  1. The First two Months
  2. Age between 1-3 Month
  3. Age Between 4-7 months
  4. Age between 8- 12 months

Read and learn how each stage can be fun and you will be amazed to witness the magical response of your loved one even when she is a few days or months old.

Child developmental milestone

  • 0-1month old:

Suckling – Rooting- Startle- Grasp

Your little baby starts all these 4 activities just the moment she is born. Apart from sleeping for 15 hours, neonates also love to move their lips and hands. All 4 of these fun milestones deepen your bond with the baby. A baby will often initiate breast crawl mechanism immediately after birth and could latch to the mother for nutrition.

Suckling Reflex: Sucking and Swallowing are the first set of activities that the baby performs and is often achieved within minutes of birth. Try touching the roof of mouth of baby!!! You will the baby starts to suck!!

Rooting reflex: Have you ever tried to touch the cheek of newborn?? You shall be able to observe that the baby turns his head towards the side of cheek that is stimulated by your touch. More importantly, this reflex helps baby to look for mother’s breast nipple.

Startle Reflex: On hearing the loud noise or when he/she is made to fall backward, the child extends his both arms and legs away from his body. It is prominent mostly till the age of 3 month of age.

Grasp reflex: Try stimulating the palm of newborn, and enjoy how warmly she will grasp your finger almost unwilling to leave!!

  • 1-3 months

This is the time when baby will start strengthening neck and back muscles. By 3months he shall be able to hold her neck for a considerable time sometimes may oscillate it a bit. Nights may be little tough as the baby may wake up many times out of hunger or colic but day time should be utilized to have fun.

Massage your baby each day:  Coconut oil or Baby moisturizer can be used to massage your baby. 15 minutes massage will help you bond with your baby and also help in strengthen back and neck muscles.

Tummy time: give your baby lots and lots of tummy time. Put your baby in prone position, and massage her back in evening for 45 minutes. Also one can make the baby sleep on your chest while you can lie down on your back.

Sweet Nothings: Talk to your baby with a smile in a sing song manner to provoke her smile. She will love your voice.

Do not leave your baby unattended anytime especially when she is having tummy time.

Congratulations! Your baby will soon be gifting you her most special ‘Social Smile’. Click it and cherish it!!

  • 4-7 months

Rolling to the glory: Your baby will start rolling sideway by the time she is 4 months. Put a few bright toys, rattles beyond baby’s reach. By 5-6 months, you will also see her rolling from front to back or vice versa.

Get a book with big picture: Reading aloud will help your baby become a little more attentive. The big pictures will attract him and your sound will fascinate him. Reading at bed time ca also set a routine for your baby indicating that it’s time for her to sleep.

Listening to music, mirror watching, playing games with blanket: your baby is more responsive now. He laughs, cuddles, is most of the time excited, may get into nonstop laugh mode and loves peek-a-boo.

  • 8-12 months old

Crawl and achieve: Now your baby is ready to move out of your hands! Babies will love to crawl, Catch hold of things, and love to hold something that can make them stand tall.

Life gets much more amusing: offer him safe empty containers to play with, your Tupperware is equally colorful and safe. Hug him and praise for good behavior or on anything that he achieves by crawling or standing by support. Play Clap-clap game.

Language development: Yes the time is right!! Now you can help baby develop a language. Explain him what are you doing now, or the procedure of doing a particular task is. Talk to her in a language that you want her to develop vocally.

Socialize: Enable baby to socialize as now he is developing visual memory of care givers apart from parents. Give her time, do not rush but respect her anxiety

Walk with support or cruising: Your baby by 10-11 months will start cruising while he stands with support and walk around your coffee tables holding it firmly. Encourage the child will open arms and hug her finally when she reaches the end point.

Infancy is beautiful. New moms my get impatient or frantic about colics, hiccups and sleepless night, but friends the wait till 4 months. Social smile is the remedy for all. Wish your baby a great and healthy infancy!

Menstrual Hygiene: Do’s and Don’ts During Menstruation

Menstrual Hygiene

Menstruation is a normal physiological process. Women menstruate every month for longest time in their lives, but still talking about menstruation is wrongly regarded as a taboo. There are numerous unrelated beliefs and myths related to menstruation which hamper proper health and hygiene maintenance at time of menstruation. In retrospect, taboos have inflicted indignities to many girls and women and having said this, lack of proper sanitation, water, privacy has also urged girls to stop going to schools also. Even if adequate washing facilities, sanitation, menstrual sanitary pads are available, still hygiene management remains a challenge due to lack of access to information as to how to manage menstrual hygiene. So, here we discuss basic dos and don’ts of menstrual hygiene management.

Poor Menstrual Hygiene Consequences

  • Increased Risk of infection (including sexually transmitted infection) is higher than normal during menstruation (Urinary tract infections UTIs/RTIs) are bacterial infections
  • Yeast infections such as Thrush (Candidiasis)
  • Using unclean cloth instead of sanitary pad leads to the growth of unwanted bacteria that could lead to infection

Social, educational and economic impacts of menstrual hygiene:

  • Dignity – It is crucial for girls and women to feel empowered to engage in regular daily work without much discomfort. and other daily activities and not hide away or have limitations in their movements due to menstruation.
  • Education – Lack of menstrual hygiene services often leads to girls missing school.
  • Loss of Economic Opportunity – Due to monthly illness women lose out on economic opportunity.

What hygiene practices should be followed during menstruation?

  • Change napkins regularly: It is common practice to change pad only when it is fully soaked. It’s wrong!! Pad should be changed at least every 6 hours. Even when the flow is lighter on 4th or 5th day, still pad should be changed 6 -8 hourly.
  • Remember to take change of napkins whenever going out: Always carry extra sanitary pads when you move out of house. Long hours with same pad can cause infection.
  • Wash the genital area after each use of the toilet, also after urination: Use warm water to clean your vulva. It’s been proven that vaginas are self-cleaning so, do not apply soap. However, feminine hygiene products can be of help.
  • Direction of wash : Remember also to make sure that the water flows from the vagina towards the anal areas and not vice-versa to avoid urinary tract infections.
  • Keep the area between the legs dry otherwise soreness and chaffing may develop
  • One should take bath everyday during menses.
  • One can easily exercise, walk or do any regular activity.

How to dispose napkins?

  • Napkins should not be thrown into the toilets particularly the water closet.
  • It is better to keep a dust bin in the corner of the toilet. Keep old newspapers/waste paper ready to wrap the sanitary pad. Drop it in the bin. You can dispose the contents of the bin after your cycle bleed is over or daily.
  • In case there is no disposal mechanism prevalent in your locality, see about disposing it within your backyard itself either by sanitary pit (burial) or incineration (burning).

Some myths!! Don’t worry!!

In some cultures, women and girls are told to abide by some customs which have no scientific logic like

  • During their menstrual cycle they should not bathe (or they will become infertile)
  • Touch a cow (or it will become infertile)
  • Look in a mirror (or it will lose its brightness)
  • Touch a plant (or it will die)

When to visit a doctor?…

  • Dysmenorrhoea – If menstruation is painful that is severe enough to limit normal activity or requires medication.
  • Menorrhagia– Excessive (>5-6 tsp. per day) uterine bleeding Prolonged (>7days) regular
  • If any discharge that is colored, has strong odor, or itches call a doctor…

Menstruation is way towards womanhood. Menstruation should never bog you down from taking up challenges.  Your hygiene is in your hands. So, be wise and maintain menstrual hygiene.

Breast Feeding: Best gift to your child

breast feeding

Breast milk production and feeding is a natural process. Your body starts producing breast milk in last trimester of pregnancy. Sudden decline in progesterone levels post delivery initiates the process of other lactation hormones like oxytocin and prolactin to release milk.  Now that one is trying to learn how to breastfeed, your baby is also trying to learn how to suckle on you.

It is usually seen that breast feeding mothers easily lose confidence. This may encourage her in giving artificial feeds. But no artificial milk is as good as breast milk. One tends to easily believe that there is either something wrong with her or her baby. One must not lose confidence as one no child must be deprived of the best gift her mother can give that is breast milk.

Breast milk: A wholesome food

Two very commonly used terms used for breast milk are Foremilk and Hind milk.  This term refer to whether we are talking about milk at the start of feed or at the end of feed. Foremilk: refers to milk at the start of a feed. It is sweeter and has got glucose.Hind milk: refers to the milk at the end of a feed. It has a higher fat content. That is why it is recommended to empty one breast first before switching to other as baby should get fat containing hind milk for appropriate weight gain.

Advantages of Breast Feeding

  • Perfect nutrients
  • Easily digestible
  • No extra cost to family
  • Protects against infections
  • Helps bonding and development
  • Delays next pregnancy
  • Protects mothers health also


  • Start breastfeed within 30 minutes to 1 hour after delivery
  • Exclusive breastfeed till 6 months: Exclusive breastfeeding means giving a baby no other food or drink, including no water, in addition to breastfeeding (except medicines and vitamin or mineral drops; expressed breast milk is also permitted).
  • Rooming in and breast feeding on demand; Mother can respond to baby, which helps bonding- Babies cry less, so – Mothers more confident about breastfeeding

– Breastfeeding continues longer

Advantages of Demand Feeding:

Immediately after delivery, it is recommended that baby should be fed every two hours for 10 days. Post that, breast feeding on demand is highly recommended; no matter for how many times your baby demands your milk. Plus there are several advantages to breast feeding ‘on demand’.

  • Breast milk `comes in’ sooner
  • Baby gains weight faster
  • Fewer difficulties such as engorgement
  • Breastfeeding more easily established

Common breast related issues faced by new mothers

Breast engorgement /Mastitis: Mastitis is an infection of the breast tissue that results in breast pain, swelling, warmth and redness. One may develop fever and chills. In most cases, mastitis occurs within the first six to 12 weeks after giving birth (postpartum), but it can happen later during breast-feeding. In most cases, you’ll feel ill with flu-like symptoms for several hours before you recognize that your breast has an area of tenderness and redness. As soon as you recognize this combination of signs and symptoms, it’s time to contact your doctor. Oral antibiotics are usually effective in treating this condition It is caused by blocked milk duct.

  • Contact your doctor
  • Do cold fermentation on breast
  • Pump out extra milk. Nurse more often from affected breast.

Nipple sores: Nipple soreness is experienced by most mothers as early as 2-3 days post delivery. It is painful while baby latches on the nipple. It is a result of poor attachment when baby only sucks on nipple and not on areola. This leads to lot of frustration and pain.

  • Apply over the counter ointments like boroline or nipcare thickly on the nipple. Give rest to the nipple by not feeding by it for at least 24 – 48 hours. Pump out/express milk in a sterilized container to prevent engorgement. Do the same for other breast. Treatment of nipple soreness is extremely important as the cracks in nipple may bleed also.

Some more information regarding breast milk

  • It has plenty of water. There is no need to give baby water for first 6 months.
  • In case baby develops diarrhea due to artificial feeds, it is important to continue feeding on breast milk. Do not stop breastfeed
  • There is no relation of amount of milk produced with size of breasts. Bigger breasts contain more fat. Part of the breast that stores milk is the same in everyone.

Breast feeding is the most beautiful experience a mother can only experience. One should cherish it as it is not going to last forever. Remember your baby needs you and your milk the most during first 6 months of her life. Gift her a healthy today and a healthy future. Offer her breast milk as soon as you receive her in your arms.  Happy Feeding!!

First bites:  Introducing solids to babies

solids to babies

World Health Organization recommends ‘Exclusive breastfeeding’ for 6 months is the optimal way of feeding infants. Thereafter infants should receive complementary foods with continued breastfeeding up to 2 years of age or beyond.

Baby’s readiness to solids depends on the maturity of its digestive system. One cannot predict this gut maturity in an obvious kind of way. Research suggests that most of the babies are ready for solids at about 6 months of age. Solids should always compliment the breastfeeding or formula feeding and should not replace it.

Why wait till 6 months?

  • Six months of exclusive breast feeding protects child from pathogens at a vulnerable age
  • Research suggests that baby’s digestive system is fully matured at 6 months to accept solids
  • Baby’s needs for nutrients increases along with growth spurt at 6 months
  • Baby can hold neck firmly and sit without support approximately at 6 months
  • Baby is in position to take food from spoon and gulp it rather than throwing outside by tongue
  • Very often you shall notice that baby is quite inquisitive of food kept in your plate and is eager to grab it.

These evidences suggest that your baby is ready for solids.

How to go about it?

Lots and lots of patience, observation and perseverance will let you understand your baby’s taste buds. Babies act the naughtiest and craziest while eating food. You may be surprised to see your baby totally loving solid or may be rejecting it all together at the first stance. She might also make funny faces when tasting something new for the first time. Enjoy it!! Click it!! Preserve the moment!! Keep the following in mind.

  • Start the day with breast milk/formula and not with new food. Similarly end the day with breast milk or formula and not by new food.
  • Clean utensils plus clean hands. Use bowl and spoon.
  • Introduce solids one at a time. Follow 3 day rule. When you introduce a new thing, continue for at least 3 days. Do not add the second food before 3 days. Look for any serious reactions like rash or swelling depicting food allergy.
  • Make the child eat in day time. Avoid anything new at late evenings or night. Anything new in tummy may trouble the baby’s sleep at night.
  • Introduce when the child is least cranky. Do not think that baby will accept new food when she is hungry. No she won’t. When she is hungry she will always look for mom’s milk or formula and reject new food all together.

What to start with?

Do not literally go by the word ‘solid’. Here ‘Solids’ are referred to as introducing anything apart from breast milk/formula to the child in the form of liquids or puree. So remember at this point do not give anything that is solid/hard in nature. Baby should do quite well with the food that is readily available in each household.

Dal water (Yellow moong dhuli dal in Hindi): Split Green Gram or Moong Dhuli Dal water is extremely easy to make and introduce plus a rich source of protein. My personal experience says that this dal water never fails. It is the easiest food to digest. Do not add any turmeric or salt for baby. Remove the standing water after dal in done in pressure cooker for the baby. Rest of the dal can be used by family.

Rice Water: Cook rice as usual but with 3-4 times water. When rice is cooked, again remove the standing water from the vessel and give to your baby. It is a rich source of carbohydrates and vitamin B

Mashed Banana: Try introducing 1/3rd of banana to your baby in mashed form. One can also add some breast milk or formula to make it look like a porridge. Do not add sugar. Avoid pulp on first day. Subsequently little pulp should be fine.

Thin Curd: Stir the fresh curd till thin, can add little milk to make it thin. And give 3-4 spoons to the baby

Introduce each of above food for 3 continuous days before shifting to next. Follow this regime for 2 weeks. By third week one can introduce second small meal to baby’s diet.

Apple /Carrot puree: Wash-Peel-boil till soft-Blend and introduce. Do not give in raw form.

Papaya extract: Mash few slices of papaya. Introduce the juice that has come out. Baby might not take the pulp easily.

Mashed Potato: By week 4, one can introduce mashed potato.

A few more tips:

Have patience, do not rush. Good food habits for home cooked meals will go a long way. Do not loose temper on baby. It’s new world for her. Appreciate every small step that baby takes towards achieving next milestone. And yeah!! Do share your story in comments below.

Family Planning: An Informed Choice| Family Planning Methods

family planning

Family planning enables people to attain desired number of children and determine the spacing of pregnancies. By ‘spacing’ I mean keeping a gap between two conceptions. Research shows that women must wait for at least 2 years before conceiving again. This results in better maternal and child health outcome. Short spacing leads to low birth weight in babies, premature babies, pre term labor, mental stress for mothers etc. Thus, limiting and spacing the number of children results in better maternal, child and economic outcomes of a family. So in simple words, family planning accomplishes following three goals

  • When do you want to start your family?
  • Deciding age different between your children
  • When do you want to stop having children?

All family planning programs all over the world strive to provide access to all methods of family planning along with right information so that a couple can make an informed decision regarding the best contraceptive methods they could adopt.

Benefits of Family Planning

Spacing births appropriately gives time to replenish vital nutrients like iron and calcium that were lost during child birth and breastfeeding and also the recovery time to allow uterus to restore back to normal. So if one becomes pregnant before replenishing these stores, it will adversely affect the foetus. Family planning also ensures that new parents have the energy and ability to focus on another child and not compromise time and health of the older child. In simple terms family planning enables the following

  • Reducing number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions
  • Reducing number of teenage pregnancies
  • Health baby
  • Healthy mother
  • Preventing sexually transmitted diseases
  • Enables economic growth of the family
  • Empowers a woman

Family Planning Methods – Make an informed choice

Once a couple has decided to use family planning, they must make a choice on which one to choose. To enable their informed choice, it is essential that they must learn about different methods available with their selection criteria. There are two ways of family planning namely ‘Modern’ methods and ‘Traditional’ methods.

Modern MethodMechanismExampleWho should useProtection from STDs
Barrier MethodIt prevents pregnancy by keeping away the sperm from reaching the eggsCondomsAny couple who is willing and is motivated to use it before each act of sexual intercourse.

Easily available over the counter.

HormonalIt prevents the woman’s ovary from releasing an egg, makes it harder for the sperm to reach the egg and keep the lining of the uterus from supporting a pregnancyOral contraceptive pills,

Hormonal patch

Any woman who has no contraindication to hormonal medication like heart disease etc.

Woman has to remember to take a pill each day.

Intrauterine deviceThey prevent the sperm from fertilizing the woman’s egg by thickening cervical mucusCopper TAny couple who wants to space pregnancy for yearsno
Permanent methodsThese are reversible or irreversible operative procedures that prevent pregnancy.Tubectomy, tubal ligation, VasectomyAny couple who no more want to have childrenno


Traditional Methods of Family Planning

Calendar Method: A woman monitors her pattern of menstrual cycle and ovulation dates and marks on calendar. Observation is needed for nearly 6 months to be near accuracy. During the fertile days, either the couple abstains from sex or uses a condom. Accuracy levels are low if the menstrual cycle is irregular leading to pregnancy

Withdrawal Method: In this method, man withdraws his penis from his partner’s vagina and ejaculates outside keeping sperm away from external genetalia. But there is a 22%-25% chance of leakage of few sperms into the vagina.

Where should one go to avail family planning services?

  • Any public or private hospital
  • government dispensaries (provision of free of cost)
  • Auxiliary Nurse Midwives,(provision of free of cost)
  • ASHA (Accredited Social Health Activist) can help you access any of these services free of cost.

Barriers to Family Planning:

  • Lack of education
  • Lack of choice in form of unavailability of whole range of contraceptives
  • Myths relates to contraception

Your health worker/doctor shall take your complete medical, personal and obstetric history before giving you a range of contraceptive for your respective choice and need.

Talk to your health worker as soon as possible and plan your family. Empower yourself by choosing wisely!!

Menopause – Every woman should know about this!!  


Remember your mother complaining of excessive sweating and hot flushes? And do you also remember the mood swings she goes through or may have gone through in past? Ever wondered why is she complaining? Maybe its menopause!! Let’s not be silent on it but on the other hand try to gain as much knowledge so that in future we can understand and help a woman during menopause.

Change is the only permanent thing and so is menopause

There are tremendous midlife changes through which almost everyone passes. One of them is called ‘menopause’. Women have been silent on this topic erstwhile, but now it is gaining momentum not only among middle aged but also among young women and men. Menopause is a phase through which every woman has to pass; therefore it is indispensible for everyone including her husband and young children to know about it.

In simple words menopause refers to that time in every woman’s life when her periods stop and her ovaries lose their reproductive function. Most commonly it happens between ages 45 and 55. This process does not occur all of a sudden as it is a gradual process. Each woman goes through a transitional period or a perimenopausal phase. This transition may take years. It is the time when ovaries stop producing oestrogen as their store of eggs decreases with age. So, finally when there are no periods occurring for 12 months after your last menstrual period, it marks menopause. It is a natural biological process which tends to end fertility but one can stay healthy and sexually active.

How you react to menopause?

Depending upon the stage of life, it is seen that different women react differently. Age, want for more children, previous health condition, importance of personal identity, sexual activeness can affect one’s reaction to menopause. In some cases, women tend to take it as freedom from fear of being pregnant.

How does it feel? Menopause Symptoms

Visible symptoms of menopause include:

Do’s and Don’ts during Menopause

There are some ‘invisible’ consequences of menopause due to decline in production of oestrogen. This hormonal decline also leads to bone thinning due to accelerated loss of calcium from the bones and weakening of bones thus resulting in easy fractures.

Menopause Age

Can it happen so early?

Average age of reaching menopause is 51. There are a few exceptional cases, where menopause occurs before 40s. This may be due to premature ovarian insufficiency. These cases are known as to be ‘premature’ menopause.

Menopause can also happen earlier than usual like in women who have received treatment for cancer because chemotherapy, radiation, and hormone therapies can all interfere with hormone levels. Also, surgical removal of ovaries for any reason will also cause Surgical menopause

Should I seek medical opinion?

Menopause is a normal phase and not a disease. One should definitely seek medical opinion in case the symptoms are interfering with your daily life or these symptoms have started to occur before age of 45. I should also seek counselling if required on how to go about lifestyle modification so as to combat bothering of symptoms.

Not going into details, I suggest some easy steps like keeping the room temperature cool, yoga, cessation to smoke, maintaining healthy diet, avoiding spicy food, using cotton lingerie, drinking lots of water, reading a light hearted book can go a long way combating the symptoms.