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Tucked way in the back of my trusty copy of “Caring for Your Baby and Young Child”, behind 26 chapters with advice for the first five years of a child’s life, is this description of febrile seizures:


“Children may look ‘peculiar’ for a few moments, then stiffen, twitch, and roll their eyes. They will be unresponsive for a short time, and their skin may appear to be a little darker than usual during the episode. The entire convulsion usually lasts less than one minute and may be over in a few seconds, but it can seem like a lifetime to a frightened parent.”

It doesn’t matter that febrile seizures are, as the entry concludes, generally benign. It doesn’t matter that they don’t lead to brain damage, epilepsy, or death. It doesn’t matter that, shortly after a seizure, a child will be sleepy, but fine.

Those things don’t matter because “lifetime” is an accurate measurement of how time passes if it’s your child having the seizure, as I learned when my son had one at 18 months. Those three minutes were enough time to panic about my lack of medical training, as well as envision my child’s funeral and a future in which my husband left me because I failed to use the right lifesaving technique.

 

 

But my son didn’t need to be saved, nor had he ever been in an emergency. Fifteen minutes later, he was back to being an exhausted kid with an ear infection, annoyed by the EMTs who were observing him.

I wish I had known beforehand that this was not a medical emergency. I wish I had known how common febrile seizures are: As many as one in 20 kids will have at least one. I wish I had known that, while they look terrifying, febrile seizures generally have no lasting effects. I wish I had known that I didn’t need to rush my child to the ER when he would have been more comfortable snuggling on the couch.

What does a febrile seizure look like?

The term “febrile seizure” can, in itself, be a little confusing because children who have febrile seizures won’t all look the same. The word “seizure” refers to abnormal electrical activity in the brain, not the specific movements the child is making.

Some children with febrile seizures may be having tonic clonic seizures – the classic whole-body shaking we tend to imagine when we hear the word “seizure.” Other children may have more localized movement, like an arm that moves while the rest of the body is stiff.

Seizures can be caused by many other medical issues, and it may be difficult to tell one from the other. The most important distinction with a febrile seizure isn’t the specific movement the child is making; it’s the fever that precedes the seizure. The classic case of a febrile seizure is a child with an infection and a high fever. If your child has been ill for a few hours and then has a seizure, chances are he’s having a febrile seizure.

Some parents have uploaded videos of their children’s febrile seizures to YouTube so that other parents can understand what a febrile seizure looks like and how to deal with one. This video is a strong example because it captures the classic features of a typical febrile seizure: a short period of convulsions, a groggy but otherwise fine child…and a terrified parent.

Febrile seizures look like a medical emergency, and in some cases they can be. But in the majority of cases, there’s nothing to do but wait it out safely and follow up with a pediatrician.

Simple vs. Complex

The medical literature divides febrile seizures into two basic categories: simple and complex. The American Academy of Pediatrics defines a simple febrile seizure as one that involves the whole body, lasts for less than 15 minutes, and does not recur within 24 hours.

A febrile seizure is considered complex if it is either focal (meaning that only one part of the body is affected), prolonged (more than 15 minutes) or recurrent (meaning that multiple seizures occur within 24 hours).

The majority of febrile seizures (between 70 and 75 percent) are simple, while 20 to 25 percent are complex. Astute observers will notice that the math doesn’t quite add up. That’s because those simple and complex categories have recently been expanded to include two more types of seizures: febrile status epilepticus (epileptic seizures lasting more than 30 minutes) and febrile seizure plus (simple febrile seizures that occur multiple times within 24 hours).

What are the risks of simple febrile seizures?

Given how terrifying a febrile seizure looks, it’s surprising that it’s unlikely to cause damage. Parents worry about brain function post-seizure, but in the case of healthy children with simple febrile seizures, there is no evidence that seizures cause brain damage. The AAP Guidelines actually recommend against brain imaging after a simple febrile seizure.

The only thing a simple febrile seizure is predictive of is another febrile seizure. Children who have had one have about a 30 percent chance of having another one. Children with more risk factors for febrile seizures – aged under 18 months, with a family member who also had febrile seizures and a fever a short while before the seizure and/or a fever lower than 104 – are more likely to have another one.

One study found that the risk of recurrent seizure for a child with all four of those risk factors was greater than 70 percent.

Which kids have simple febrile seizures?

Depending on which estimate you read, two to five percent of children will have a febrile seizure. If we take the high estimate, that’s one in every 20 kids, making febrile seizures unusual, but relatively common.

More than any other risk factor, a child’s age makes him at risk for febrile seizure. They occur between six months and five years, with the peak time being about two years old.

One study found that children with a family history of seizures and long neonatal hospital stays were more prone to febrile seizures. It also found a correlation between febrile seizures and daycare attendance. The daycare didn’t cause the seizure, but children in daycares do tend to spread illnesses around, and illnesses lead to fever.

Likewise, recently vaccinated children are slightly more prone to seizures. As with the daycare example, it’s unlikely that the vaccines themselves are the culprits. Instead, a child who runs a fever because of normal responses to a vaccine may also have a febrile seizure. Put differently, the vaccination did not cause the seizure. The vaccination caused the immune response, which caused the fever, which caused the seizure.

Should you call your pediatrician or the ER?

A simple febrile seizure is short. During the episode, you will think your child is not breathing, but she is. You will think she’s choking on mucus, but if you place her on her side, she will not.

After the seizure, you’ll be concerned that she looks too sleepy, that you can’t rouse her, but that’s normal. Your child will still be sick with whatever illness brought on the fever in the first place, so the best course of action is to let her rest and treat the illness as you normally would.

If you can see through your panic in the moment, call the pediatrician instead of 911. There are a few good reasons to do this. First, if the seizure is over and your child looks tired but otherwise okay, there is no medical emergency – even though what you witnessed looked terrifying. Second, consensus among pediatricians is that most febrile seizures can be evaluated at home, sometimes with follow-up from the pediatrician.

If the seizure is localized (only in one part of the body), or if the seizure lasts for more than 10 minutes, your child may need more immediate medical attention.

What will pediatricians look for when evaluating a seizure?

Even though a simple febrile seizure is not a medical emergency requiring immediate attention, it is important to follow up with your pediatrician, first to verify a fever and then identify a cause of that fever.

If your child just had a simple febrile seizure, the first thing your pediatrician will likely do is look for the fever. If your child did not have a fever before the seizure, or if you’re unsure about the fever, your pediatrician will probably look for signs of bacterial meningitis.

Meningitis is an infection of the membranes surrounding the brain and spinal cord. Screening for meningitis is the AAP’s first guideline for evaluating a febrile seizure. This disease is rare, but dangerous, so your pediatrician will want to rule it out entirely before determining simple febrile seizure.

Two routine childhood vaccinations reduce the risk for contracting bacterial meningitis. If your child is not up-to-date on vaccinations, your pediatrician may recommend a lumbar puncture to rule out meningitis.

If your pediatrician has ruled out meningitis, she will probably not test for other infections because the infection itself doesn’t really matter. If your child currently has the flu, an ear infection, or some other common infection, and does not have another seizure within 24 hours, your child is likely to be feeling better far sooner than you are. He’ll sleep peacefully (even though you will likely panic about another seizure for at least a few more nights, or years).

You might feel frustrated that your pediatrician, EMT, or emergency room attendant appears to be doing nothing when you’ve just witnessed what looked like your child dying. That inactivity just means that your child is fine and that she will have forgotten this experience long before you will.

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While breastfeeding might seem like a simple task, there are so many pieces to the puzzle aside from your breasts and baby. From securing a good latch, boosting your milk supply and navigating pumping at work or feeding throughout the night, there's a lot that mama has to go through—and a number of products she needs.

No matter how long your nursing journey may be, it can be hard to figure out what items you really need to add to your cart. So we asked our team at Motherly to share items they simply couldn't live without while breastfeeding. You know, those ones that are a total game-changer.

Here are the best 13 products that they recommend—and you can get them all from Walmart.com:

1. Medela Nursing Sleep Bra

"This fuss-free nursing bra was perfect for all the times that I was too tired to fumble with a clasp. It's also so comfy that, I have to admit, I still keep it in rotation despite the fact that my nursing days are behind me (shh!)." —Mary S.

Price: $15.99

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2. Dr. Brown's Baby First Year Transition Bottles

"My daughter easily transitioned back and forth between breastfeeding and these bottles." —Elizabeth

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3. Multi-Use Nursing Cover

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4. Lansinoh TheraPearl Breast Therapy Pack

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5. Medela Quick Clean Breast Pump Wipes

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6. Earth Mama Organic Nipple Butter

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7. Medela Double Electric Pump

"I had latch issues and terrible postpartum anxiety, and was always worried my son wasn't getting enough milk. So I relied heavily on my breast pump so that I could feed him bottles and know exactly how much he was drinking. This Medela pump and I were best friends for almost an entire year" —Karell

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8. Lansinoh Disposable Stay Dry Nursing Pads

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9. Haakaa Silicone Manual Breast Pump

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10. Medela Harmony Breast Pump

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12. Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags

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13. Kiinde Twist Breastfeeding Starter Kit

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This article is sponsored by Walmart. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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While you're gearing up for (or in the middle of) back to school season, Halloween may seem like it will never get here, but it's only a couple of months away. And if you can barely wait for the leaves to fall and temperatures to drop, Disney and Amazon are here to get you in the spooky spirit.

Enter: Disney's Halloween shop on Amazon. 🎃This curated collection features tons of items for the season and we love that many are nods to some of our favorite festive movies. Think: Hocus Pocus and A Nightmare Before Christmas.

From Halloween costumes for kids to ghostly mugs for mama, these are the best items for the entire family:

1. Disney Jack Skellington Mug

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If you're a fan of Tim Burton's A Nightmare Before Christmas, this will be your favorite mug to sip your coffee or tea from.

Price: $12.99

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2. My First Halloween Board Book

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Halloween doesn't have to be scary, mama. This touch and feel board book introduces baby to the season.

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3. Anna + Elsa Costume

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Get a head start on your costumes by adding this one to your cart. Bonus points for having accessories that can be used for playtime year-round.

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4. Minnie Mouse Sequin Ears

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If you don't want to fully dress up to trick or treat, add on these ears to feel festive for less.

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5. Hocus Pocus Women's Tee

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Motherly is your daily #momlife manual; we are here to help you easily find the best, most beautiful products for your life that actually work. We share what we love—and we may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Ashley Graham is having a baby! The supermodel recently shared the exciting news on social media — and it didn't take long for her to make an important statement about pregnant bodies.

Ashley shared a beautiful photo featuring something nearly every woman on the planet has: stretch marks. The photo, which features Ashley nude and seemingly unfiltered, is kind of revolutionary—because while it's completely normal for a woman to have stretch marks (especially during pregnancy), we don't often get to see celebrities rocking this reality on magazine covers or even in social media posts.

That's probably why Ashley, who will welcome her firstborn with husband Justin Ervin, is earning so much praise for the photo, which she posted on Instagram. The images shows the model's side with the caption "same same but a little different".

One follower who is loving this real look at a pregnant body? Hillary Scott of Lady Antebellum, who writes "My Lord, THANK YOU for this."

Ashley's post touches another user in an unexpected way: "I'm such a wimp. I'm pregnant, hormonal, and going though so many body changes. This made me tear up. I really needed this today," she writes.

Another user adds: "I showed my husband this photo and he said, 'See! She's just like you' I am almost 21 weeks pregnant and I've been struggling with my changing body. I love how much you embrace it. I've always looked up to you and your confidence. ❤️ Congratulations on your babe!"

Yet another follower adds: "This is what girls need to see. We need this as a reference for real and relatable. Women young and old. Thank you!"

Of course this is social media we're talking about so a few hateful comments make their way into the mix—but Ashley's many advocates shut that down. We have to applaud this stunning mom-to-be for showing the world how pregnancy really changes your body.

Women everywhere can see themselves in this photo of a supermodel (and how often does that happen?). That's powerful stuff—and it just might make it a little bit easier for the rest of us to embrace the changes we see in our own bodies.

One follower sums it all up best, writing: "I CANNOT WAIT for you to be a mother and teach another human being that ALL bodies are beautiful. You're going to be such an amazing mother."

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For a lot of families, summer is a season where rules relax and bedtimes get pushed back a little later than usual. But with school starting, weekday mornings are about to start a lot earlier for many kids, and parents might be wondering how to reset the clock on bedtimes.

According to Terry Cralle, an RN, certified clinical sleep expert and the spokesperson for the Better Sleep Council, a new school year is a good opportunity for families to get a fresh start on sleep routines.

"We have to start with really making sufficient sleep a family priority [and] having some discussions about the importance of sleep with our children," Cralle tells Motherly. "It shouldn't be at bedtime when everyone's cranky and tired. It should be during the day that families really discuss the importance of sleep for all family members."

If you need to have a conversation about getting enough sleep for school, try the following tips from Cralle.

1. Be positive about sleep

Make sure that younger children, especially, understand that sleep is a positive, not negative thing, and don't use the threat of bedtime as punishment.

"What we want to do is, ideally, change how children perceive sleep because children can see sleep as a great big timeout where they're missing out on things," Cralle explains, suggesting that parents instead try to present sleep and bedtime routines as "with positivity and as just a non-negotiable part of our lives."

Cralle wants parents to make sure they're talking with their kids about how a lack of sleep can impact one's mood, health and academic ability. Just as we teach our kids about the importance of eating healthy, we should be teaching them about the importance of sleeping healthy, and from an early age.

2. Empower your children with choices

According to Cralle, it's really important to empower children with choices around bedtime, because the one thing they can't have a choice in is the fact that they do need to go to sleep.

"They're going be more accountable, more responsible, and hopefully, develop good sleep habits and practice good hygiene early in life," if we empower them through simple choices, Cralle suggests.

"So we can say, what pajamas do you want to wear to bed tonight? What book do you want to read? Let them participate. If they can pick out their color of their pillowcase, let them do it. Whatever's age appropriate."

3. Let them do their own bedtime math

Instead of just telling kids when they need to go to bed, involve them in figuring out an appropriate bedtime.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine lists how much sleep kids need depending on their age. Have them look up how much sleep a kid their age needs, and then show them the National Sleep Foundation's online bedtime calculator. Kids can choose how many hours of sleep they need and when they want to wake up, and it will show them when they need to go to bed.

It's not an arbitrary decision mom and dad made, it's science and math, and you can't argue with that.

4. Add one sleep item to the back-to-school shopping list

Cralle says adding one sleep-related item to the back to school shopping list can really help children understand the importance of sleep as they head back into the classroom. A conversation about how getting a good night's sleep is important for school success, combined with a shopping trip for a new pillowcase or comforter can really help children see sleep as an important priority, and give them something to look forward to using at bedtime.

5. Provide an environment conducive to sleep

When our kids are infants we're really good at setting up rooms that can help them sleep. But as our children age out of cribs and start to accumulate a lot of possessions and playthings, their rooms can become a less ideal sleeping environment.

According to Cralle, it's not uncommon for kids to get up after bedtime and start playing with toys in their room. She recommends removing stimulating toys or storing them in another area of the home, and never putting televisions, tablets or smartphones in a child's room.

6. Enact a media curfew

At least an hour before bedtime, screen time should come to an end and other, more relaxing activities can begin. Cralle says families can designate a certain hour as DEAR (Drop Everything and Read) time, or move from away from brightly lit screens and towards a board games or puzzles, "things to do to get that blue light out of their eyes."

A family-wide media curfew can be a good thing, says Cralle, as it helps parents "walk the walk" when it comes to sleep hygiene. "Don't be looking at your iPad and tell your child to put it away," she explains.

7. Remember: It's never too late for good sleep habits.

According to Cralle, age 3 is the ideal time to start reinforcing the importance of sleep for a child's health, but older kids and even mom and dad can reverse bad bedtime habits if the whole family buys in. That may mean curtailing your kids' (and your own) caffeine consumption, says Cralle.

"We're seeing younger and younger age groups of school children walking around with their Starbucks cups, with coffee, late in the afternoon," says Cralle, who thinks a lot of parents just don't have good information on how caffeine consumption can impact sleep—for our kids and ourselves.

She recommends limiting the number of caffeinated beverages available in the house if you've got tweens and teens at home, and watching your own consumption as well.

"We have to say 'Here's how we're all going to approach it.' It's sort of like seat belts with children, we never would buckle them in and get into the car, and not do it ourselves."

This may be the season to tweak your own sleep habits mama. Here's to a well-rested September.

[Correction: August 24, 2018: The sleep calculator was created by the National Sleep Foundation, not the Better Sleep Council.]

[A version of this post was originally published August 23, 2018. It has been updated.]

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Learn + Play

Finding out that you are having multiples is always a surprise, but finding out that you're in labor with triplets when you didn't even know you were pregnant, well that's the mother of all surprises.

It happened to Dannette Glitz of South Dakota on August 10. The Associated Press reports she had no idea she was pregnant and thought the pain she was experiencing was kidney stones.

"I never felt movement, I never got morning sickness, nothing!" Glitz explains in a social media post.

"Well this was a huge shock"

When Glitz posted photos of her triplets to her Facebook page last week one of her friends was confused. "What? You really had triplets?" they asked.

Glitz (who has two older children) started getting pain in her back and sides in the days before the birth, but it felt like the kidney stones she had previously experienced so she brushed it off. Eventually, she was in so much pain all she could do was lay in bed and cry.

"It hurt to move and even breath[e]," she wrote, explaining that she decided to go to an Urgent Care clinic, "thinking I'm going to have to have surgery to break the stones up."

A pregnancy test at Urgent Care revealed Glitz was pregnant—that was the first surprise. The second surprise happened when a heart monitor revealed the possibility of twins.

'I need another blanket, there's a third'

Glitz was transferred to a regional hospital in Spearfish, South Dakota. "And in about 2 hours they confirmed twins as there was 2 heart beats," she writes.

Glitz was 34 weeks along and four centimeters dilated. She was transferred again, rushed by ambulance to the hospital in Rapid City and prepped for a C-section. When the C-section was happening she heard the doctor announce that Baby A was a boy and Baby B was a girl.

"Then [the doctor] yells 'I need another blanket, there's a third' ....I ended up having triplets, 1 boy [and] 2 girls," Glitz writes.

Glitz and her husband Austin named their surprise children Blaze, Gypsy and Nikki and each of the trio weighed about 4 pounds at birth. Because the couple's older children are school-aged, they didn't have any baby stuff at home. Friends quickly rallied, raising over $2,000 via a Facebook fundraiser to help the family with unexpected expenses.

A family of seven 

The family is getting used to their new normal and is so thankful for the community support and donations. "It's amazing in a small town how many people will come together for stuff that's not expected," Glitz told KOTA TV.

Her oldest, 10-year-old Ronnie, is pretty happy about a trio of siblings showing up suddenly.

"One time I seen a shooting star and I wished for a baby brother, and I wished for like two sisters for my little sister because she always wanted a little sister, I knew this day was always going to come," Ronnie told TV reporters.

Ronnie may not have been surprised, but everyone else in this story certainly was.

Congratulations to Danette and her family! You've got this, mama.

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