Posted in Opinion

The highs and lows of breastfeeding

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Breastfeeding. The act of a woman nourishing her child through her body, with no interventions from modern medicine. An age old tradition. The embodiment of motherhood and a crucial element to the bonding experience with one’s baby.

… alright guys, a bit intense?

This was and still to an extent remains my attitude towards breastfeeding. Maybe it’s my age, my personality, or just my general approach to motherhood, but I’ve never really fully ‘got’ the romanticised version of breastfeeding.

Fact: I am glad that I can breastfeed. I am grateful that I can breastfeed and that I have a good supply. I appreciate the convenience of being able to feed my baby whenever, wherever.

That said, breastfeeding is demanding, often exhausting, and sometimes really frustrating, and I don’t see why I shouldn’t talk about that. As I was saying to Peter the other day, just because breastfeeding works for me and I have no problems, doesn’t mean I can’t complain about it. I’m tired of being confronted with a ‘other women have it so much worse than you so be grateful’ kind of attitude.

Fact: Cluster feeding is exhausting. An often hunched back is painful. Not being able to go off for 2 hours alone is frustrating. Being on demand 24/7 is not liberating. Remembering to drink and eat enough to keep up your supply is damn near impossible on tough days.

I often believe that midwives expect us new mothers to be there all day in bed, breasts out, nursing our baby, waxing lyrical about the beauty of motherhood and how wonderful it feels to nourish a tiny human from our bosom. I am not an earth mother. I do not enjoy being called all the time to sit and feed.

That said. I am proud of myself and LG for making a success of this, and it is a satisfying feeling to be able to do this after already going through pregnancy and birth. My body is badass.

This post is a bit rambling, oops. Basically, I feel that it’s okay to either not enjoy breastfeeding all the time, or simply not enjoy breastfeeding at all. There’s lots of discussion of the ‘medical’ difficulties of breastfeeding (latching, mastitis, blocked glands, lack of milk) but not enough discussion of the everyday annoyances, which is a shame!

Okay, rant over!

Mama M x

Posted in Opinion

Oh no, I hope he keeps sleeping …

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Just .. don’t compare babies, ok?

Sometimes, our baby does not fulfill the ‘perfect’ label that he or she has so kindly been given. I am sure every single parent has been told at some point in the first days or weeks that their baby is ‘perfect’. Maybe it’s their perfect eyes, or smile, or the way they are gaining weight as they should, or feeding regularly, or latching …

LG for me, is a little bundle of wonder. He had a great birth (for me and for him), has taken to breastfeeding like a trouper, is hitting those developmental milestones, and is growing more handsome every day. He means everything to me, but I’m not going to label him ‘perfect’, and I want to explain why.

Every time my midwife visited across the first three weeks, she would always describe him or our situation as ‘perfect.’ My family, as heads over heels with LG as I am, also described him as perfect (more based upon his cuteness I think). Subtly, sneakily, this created an image in my mind: the mythical perfect baby. So when LG had a very bad week (his 4th week) it felt all the more terrible, because it was as if he fell of a very high pedestal.

Why is crying so relentlessly in the afternoon?
Why is he struggling with digestion so much?
Our midwife said he was perfect, and now he’s so distressed, is it something in my milk? What am I eating that’s causing him so much discomfort?
So-called perfect babies don’t wake up thrashing about trying to get painful gas out of themselves?
Poor LG! What can I do?

It was just a phase – it lasted (at it’s peak awfulness) Monday – Thursday. I was left exhausted, distressed, with my eyes sore from staring at computer screens filled with Google search results. We’d had a smooth first 2/3 weeks and now we were hit with LG’s bloating, cramps and general digestion issues, and it was hard. No one wants to hear their baby crying in pain and discomfort. I went for coffee with another Mama on the Wednesday, and prayed silently he would sleep a good 2 hours and not wake up whilst we were in the cafe. He did, briefly, and thrashed about and wailed, and then fell asleep again. “Does E get cranky because of gas and wind quite often?” I asked hopefully, “Mm, not really” was the answer I got. Yes, I compared myself and LG, yes I felt shit as a result.

No more of that.

LG is back on top form this week. He’s having a good week. He still cries each day over something, in fact, I can hear him wailing in the bedroom with Peter. He might be tired or bloated, but hey, he’s a baby.

He’s not a perfect baby – he’s wonderful, he’s handsome, but ultimately he’s a growing, newborn baby, and the word ‘perfect’ just isn’t an adjective that I’m going to use. Have your good days, have your bad days LG, you do you!

Mama M x

Posted in Opinion

Routines for newborns?

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11.19am, time for a pram adventure LG

I’m not entirely sure if this is a controversial topic. When I googled ‘typical routine for a newborn’ there were plenty of results, implying this is something people are looking into and ultimately following up on, yet talking to other mothers and my midwife, I get the impression it’s a bit taboo.

I think there’s a good demographic of people who think that, for lack of a better expression, babies should be free spirits. Let them come into this world and just, be. Feed when they want, sleep when they want – Mum and Dad should just go with the flow. This is a nice idea in practice, and maybe those with a less of a disposition to constant organisation than myself could do it. But for me, no, just no.

To clarify, with breastfeeding (which as I’m frequently reminded ‘isn’t established til the 6th week’) you do have to be on demand, which sometimes sucks. It’s incredibly important that you baby feeds and feeds, growing bigger and stronger everyday. There will be growth spurts when you have to feed more and with shorter intervals, and besides this, I wouldn’t be able to watch my 3 week old baby crying with hunger as I deprive them milk for the sake of a routine.

That said, after just a few short weeks I’ve become a big believer in developing some semblance of a routine – not for LG, but for Peter and I. Parenting is work, and work has routine, schedules and appointments. I don’t think I’ve ever been a person who can just sit back and ‘go with the flow’, and I’m certainly not going to change now!

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As if I would have time to paint my nails

At the moment, a few things are established for us as a family.

1) Since day 5 : Bedtime starts at 9.45pm. Even if he’s snoozing, LG will have his nappy changed, get put into his pjs and then have his first feed of the ‘night shift’. We aim to have him asleep somewhere between 10.15pm and 11pm. Sometimes he’s asleep at 10.20pm, sometimes he’s restless until midnight. God help us all if he is, hello sleep deprivation!

2) Since the start of week 2 : Pram adventure at 11am. LG is fed and changed around 10.45am, then off we go! Once in the pram (his happy place), he’ll sleep until 1.30pm. Fresh air for Mama & LG, and a welcome party at the end of a shift for Papa 🙂

3) Since the end of week 2 : Evening nap between roughly 8pm and 9.45pm. Our theory is he needs a little snooze before bedtime, since he’s quite often awake between 6 and 8pm. Timing is quite important here since if he had his evening nap at 7pm, he’d be awake at 9pm and potentially hard to get to sleep, or alternatively, he’d fall into a deep sleep too early and we’ve got a looooong night ahead of us.

4) Since the start of week 3 : Bathtime at 7.30pm. He looks so cute in the bath, probably one of the highlights of my day ❤ We started this today, who knows how it’ll work out ….

Even typing up all these things gives me a sense of calm, which only serves to reinforce the idea that this Mama couldn’t live without her routines, and Baby LG is going to learn to love his schedule!

Mama M x