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In this episode of MindfulGI TV, I talked with Dr. Abha Sharma who is a pediatrician and certified lactation consultant on Facebook live about common questions mothers have about breastfeeding.

There was some new things even I learned!

We answered the most commonly asked questions about breastfeeding such as:

☀How to increase/maintain milk supply

☀The best positions for breastfeeding

☀How to manage pumping when going back to work

☀Using pacifiers in the newborn period

And much more! Watch below 🙂

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When I’m not being a pediatrician, I am oftentimes a photographer. In my past life as a wedding photographer, I traveled around the world photographing weddings. Being the shutterbug that I am, my daughter is pretty used to posing for endless photographs. This would explain why she is such a ham!

Many parents often ask me how they can take better photographs of their children. To be quite honest, I would love to teach photography workshops for parents one day but until then, here are 5 simple ways to take great photographs of your children:

1. Find the backlight

In photography, the right light can make your break a photograph. In fact, some of the best photos that I have taken have been in the most ordinary of locations–but the lighting was spectacular. You don’t have to travel to an exotic location to capture a beautiful photograph. What you need most of all, is good light. After all, photography literally means ‘painting with light’ and this is what I picture myself doing when taking a photo.

Photographers often talk about the ‘golden hour’ where the light is the best for taking photographs. This is the hour before sunset and after sunrise. If you can capture memories during these times, you will be set with great lighting.

But we all know that children don’t follow a schedule! So quite often we find ourselves photographing when the sun is the most bright and harsh. In these instances, first look for the shade. This will help even out the skin tones and decrease bright spots.

Then, look for the backlight. This is where the sun is behind your subject. So the rays of the sun create a nice glow around your child. Oftentimes when the sun is behind you, your face becomes dark. This is why it is ideal for your child to be standing in an area where there is a natural reflector on the ground such as a bright pathway that reflects the sun back onto their face.

In this photo, my daughter was standing with the sun behind her, but the pathway in front of her reflected sun back onto her face. So her hair captured the beautiful rays of the sun and it also lit up her face. Win-win!

The golden hour…

2. Create depth of field

A lot of times, when we are in a pretty location, we are tempted to stand next to a beautiful tree or right in front of a wall–and while those pictures can be good, creating depth of field can make your photographs even more striking.

So what does this mean? Have your children stand several feet in front of the tree or wall instead of right next to it. This will create a clear difference between the foreground and and background and add a more dramatic layer to your photograph.

The photo below was taken in a driveway…not a particularly exciting location. But by having my daughter stand away from any of the background elements, I added depth of field to the photograph. This goes to show that with the right lighting and positioning, you can take great photos of your children anywhere!

3. Change the angle

Instead of photographing your children from directly in front of them, how about shooting from a different angle? Try shooting from above or even taking a step back and photographing from the side and through branches and trees. When you change the perspective of the photograph, you tell your child’s story in a whole new way.

4. Get down to their level

The best part of photographing children is getting to interact with them, and you can really only do that when you get down to their level. So lay on the grass and connect with them. Once you are on their level, they forget that a camera is even there and not only do you capture them in their element, but you capture a whole new perspective.

5. Capture their authenticity

Cut out the ‘cheese!’.  Instead of asking your children to say ‘cheese’— talk to them, make them smile and distract them. Even spontaneously laughing will bring out laughter in them. Most of the time, I’m having a conversation with my daughter and in between our rapport, I start clicking away!

This way, you will not only capture their smile, but the beauty of their soul. You won’t just be taking a picture, you will be preserving a memory.

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Life lessons

Image via Vakhrushev Pavel/bigstock.com

(This post which was written by me was originally published on the Huffington Post a few years ago. I’m re-publishing it here as the words still ring true today!)

Throughout my medical career as a pediatrician, I have witnessed several children pass away. Each patient has a way of touching your very soul.

What I have learned from the precious angels that I have lost is immeasurable. There is wisdom that comes when a person faces his or her own mortality. The best way to honor the lives that we have lost is to learn from them and make our own lives even better.

Here are seven lessons I have learned from those who have gone too soon:

1) Never forget how big you are blessed

I will never forget the day one of my patients told me that she wished she was me because I could leave the hospital and she could not. Those words will always be with me.

While most of us lament over the happenings of our daily lives, we never stop to think about how a simple act such as walking outside is such a tremendous blessing.

It is these small treasured moments that a child in the hospital looking out of the window is wishing for. Yet so many times, we take this for granted.

I once took a patient outside the hospital on her bed for the first time in almost a year. With her IV meds and oxygen tank connected to her, she felt fresh air for the first time in 300 days. I have never seen someone so incredibly grateful.

She passed away one month later. But in that moment, with tears streaming down her face, she thanked me for taking her outside.

Francesca Battistelli once sang:

“Sometimes in the middle of my mess, I forget how big I am blessed.”

No matter what life mess you are in, never forget how truly big you are blessed.

2) Don’t lose focus of the fact that your greatest investment will be in people

The only things a person in the hospital brings with them is the love and support of their family and friends.

They don’t bring their big house, their expensive car or even their fancy clothes.

They begin to realize that their greatest investment has been in people. It is these same people who will shower them with support, love and good blessings that give strength during the tough times.

And when they have crossed over to the other side, they live on in the hearts and souls of those they have left behind.

The surest way to achieve immortality is to invest in people.

3) Be a collector of moments, not a collector of things

For a person in the hospital, every moment is special. People deeply cherish the moments spent laughing together and even watching TV together.

What if we started doing this before someone has to go to the hospital?

Learn to be a collector of moments. Cherish the moments with your loved ones as if you were collecting them. Store them in a special place in your heart and always keep looking to add to your collection.

4) Do not stress about approval

The next time you find yourself stressing about what someone else thinks of you, think of your last day on this earth. Will this matter then?

A teenage patient in the hospital once told me:

“If I get out of the hospital, I will never stress about what others think of me. I spent so much time worried about being liked, when all I needed to do was like myself.”

If there is one thing you should let go of this year, it should be stressing about approval.

5) When you have a choice between time and money… pick time

We spend so much time stressing about our money. We make portfolios, we create spreadsheets, and we hire stockbrokers. We spend hours trying to figure out how we can get more.

But what if we thought of our time in this way? Have you made a time portfolio? Have you figured out where and how you spend your time?

If you were given a choice between time and money, which one would you pick? I urge you to think about this.

Lives spent chasing after money at the expense of time with family and friends can feel empty and unfulfilling.

6) Never judge another person’s struggle

I remember a child with cancer who told me that he thought God was punishing him. When I asked him why, he said it was because he had made fun of children who had lost their hair when they had cancer.

After reassuring him that he was not being punished, I realized that this was a life lesson. Never judge another person’s struggle. You don’t know where your own life will lead you. Bless others and help them without judgment.

Heaven forbid that you find yourself in the same situation, you would want others not to judge you.

7) Life is too short to not pursue the dreams that are in your heart

I cannot count how many times I have heard someone say that they wished they had more time to pursue the dreams that were in their heart. Sometimes we put off our dreams for the day when we ‘have the time’ or ‘have more money’. Or we give up on them all together because we don’t think others would approve.

As Danielle LaPorte said:

“Do you remember who you were before the world told you who to be?”

I am here to remind you that regret is a heartbreaking emotion. Don’t find yourself in the hospital, regretting all the things that you wish you could have done. START NOW.

The best way to honor those we have lost is to make our lives even better. To pursue the dreams that lie deep in our hearts. To invest in people. To never judge. To be a collector of moments. To value our time. To not stress about approval. To always remember who we really are.

And to never ever forget truly how big we are blessed.

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Did you know that the period between birth to three years of age is the fastest rate of brain development across the entire human lifespan? Talking and reading to your child can help stimulate brain development and deepen the bond between you and your child.

So what are some great books to read to your children?

I talked with Dr. Danielle Fernandes on Facebook Live about the books that we love to develop emotional resilience in children. Check out the video below!

 

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Ways to get your child to take medicineImage via famveldman/bigstock.com

As a pediatrician, I know how to prescribe medication, but it was only until I became a mother that I truly began to understand the challenges of actually giving medication to children.

Now let’s face it. Most children hate taking medication and will do anything to avoid it. But there are a few tricks we can use to make this process easier for both parent and child. Here is what other parents and pediatricians have taught me through the years.

1) Make it fun

I’m a sucker for dark chocolate. It’s my guilty pleasure. Actually, I don’t feel any guilt at all while eating it…so it’s just plain pleasure. Nothing makes me happier than coming home after a long day and biting into a piece of pure bliss.

But without fail, if my daughter witnesses me eating anything at all…she wants some also. Now, I’m not that bad of a mother…I do share (besides those times I hid in the bathroom just to have chocolate for myself).

The point of this story is that most of the time, our children want exactly what we are having. So why not use this technique with medication too?

If you are giving medication in a syringe or a spoon, a game that a lot of parents play is to have mom and dad also drink a similar liquid from a syringe (or pretend to) and just as nature designed it, your child will want exactly what you are having!

I have even heard from parents who have tea parties with their child where everyone would go around the table and drink their cup of ‘medicine’.

Children inspire our creativity, so make it a fun and bonding experience!

2) Make it sweet

Since we’re on the topic of chocolate and how it makes everything better, here is a trick that I learned about relatively recently.

If you are giving medication through a syringe, you can put 1/2 ml of chocolate syrup in the syringe, followed by the medication and then end with another 1/2 ml of chocolate syrup. So it starts and ends with chocolate!

Seriously, how did I know about this trick before? It’s genius!

As always, please check with your pharmacist to verify that the medication can be mixed with chocolate syrup. If so, you are set.

3) Make it invisible

Sometimes as a parent, you are left with no choice but to be sneaky. If your child is absolutely refusing to take the medication, it’s time to hide it.

You can mix the medicine in a small amount of juice, applesauce, yogurt or even milk. Just make sure that your child drinks/eats the entire portion that you give them to make sure they get full dosage of the medication.

Remember to check with your pharmacist to make sure that particular medication can be hidden in drinks or foods.

4) Make it easier

One of the most eye-opening experiences as a pediatrician for me has been to actually taste the medication I sometimes prescribe. Some of them taste absolutely horrible! It’s hard to imagine a child swallowing them without a fight.

With that being said, many medications can be flavored to make them more palatable. You can even ask your pharmacist about different forms of the medication such as chewable tablets or rectal suppositories.

In cases, where there are no other options, another trick is to bypass the taste buds completely by squirting the syringe directly inside the cheek into the back of the mouth. This way, your child won’t taste too much of it. This method isn’t perfect, but it tends to work.

5) Make it cold

Having your child suck on ice chips before taking the medicine can numb the taste buds and make the medicine easier to swallow. If the medication can be refrigerated, cooling it for a bit can also help it go down easier.

As a parent, it is incredibly hard to see your child sick. And the struggle of getting your child to take medication can add to the stress everyone is experiencing. Hopefully these tips will help getting through this time just a little bit easier.

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