Babywearing a Newborn

Last week was international babywearing week so I figured this would be a good time for me to talk about my experiences of babywearing a newborn.

My babywearing journey started out with one of the dreaded ‘crotch danglers’ renowned for being particularly bad for babies. But I admit, I ignored these facts, and was seduced my the marketing and vast amount of rave reviews about the Baby Bjorn. As a professional marketer, when I’m not a mama, I should have known better.

That said, at the time though, I swore by it. Babe loved it, daddy did and so did I. By seven months I was starting to hate it, argh the back ache!

This time around with Boyo I’m a whole lot more educated and I’ve been able to gather advice from the great babywearing mamas on twitter and the sling meet forum. The resounding advice was to get a stretch wrap for when the baby is small.

In the UK there are two main types of stretch wrap available (that I’m aware of). The Moby (American I think but made in china) and the Kari Mee (with great british made credentials). So then the tough decision of which to go for. The Kari Me is apparently more stretchy than the Moby, which has it’s positives and negatives. In the end I went down the totally unethical route and purchased the one I could get the cheapest. That was the Moby which I bought (well my mum did as my birthday present) from Slumber Roo.

In total I have four wraps/carriers etc, three of which I can use with the newborn. The Moby is my saviour, but my Baby Hawk mei tai is also useful when Boyo wants to look around, or in hot weather (we had a few early October), plus a ring sling my friend kindly gave me (which I’m promising to give a good go next week for breastfeeding on the move). We also have an Ergo Baby but this requires a newborn insert.

I essence I love my Moby and so does Boyo.

What’s your favourite carrier for a newborn?

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The Boy is Two Weeks Old

I can’t believe it, Boyo is 14 days old today. How did that happen? They say time flys when your having fun and they’d not be wrong. These last two weeks have been so amazing, we have had the best family time together – just Babe, Boyo, hubby and I.

I know it’s not the same for all families, but having a second child has been so much easier for us than having the first. Mind you, I’m probably speaking waaaay to soon.

Perhaps much of this is down to the fact that Babe, our toddler of three in December, has not experienced one bought of jealousy and has generally been an awesome big sister. There is no denying it, she has had her two year old tantrum moments, but they have been far less frequent than I anticipated given the circumstances.

She loves most things about her little brother, even the pooie nappies and the nursing sessions. When I’m breastfeeding the boy, she often takes this as her queue to also join in on the milk fest. Sometimes I’m thankful for this, no entertainment challenges while nursing. Other times it irritates me massively and I desperately try to find ways to distract her from latching on to the other side.

She’s not ordinarily big on doling out the kisses, but for Boyo that’s a different story…kisses all round for the wee man.

The developing character
It’s true what they say about every child being different. I tell you what, this boy has a set of lungs on him. Upon testing these he usually doesn’t limber up, it’s all of a sudden; screams that are enough to make anyone jump out their skin. What the… where did that come from? Sometimes there is some grumpiness before hand or possibly some whimpering. We have nick named him the ‘puppy dog’ as he is very fond of whimpering like a puppy in his sleep. Very cute, but I’m not sure he’ll thank us for that when he’s older.

Yes it’s true he is generally very content and chilled. My gosh, with his vocal cords I’m mighty glad.

He has also developed the cutest little mannerisms, which can also look slightly creepy. Like the slanty side mouth lip sucky motion he makes when he’s hungry. “Come on people, where’s the booby?” When he does this, or tries to snog you in an attempt to root around for something that will give mama milk, we know not to mess. All action stations, he needs food. Drop everything, don’t push your luck, or try to buy time. Unless you can tolerate that full on piercing cry. I’ll be honest, unless I really have to delay, it’s not a risk I’m willing to take.

But he’s not overly demanding, so when he wants something now, we can usually accommodate him. I’m not sure how this is going to work as I juggle the toddler and him full time. A perforated eat drum wouldn’t surprise me in the future.

Family time and clear roles
This time around not having to embark on that big steep learning curve has made things so much easier, communications are great and we’re all cutting each other some slack. We each know where we can and can’t help, so no one is left feeling frustrated or useless.

So hubby goes back to work tomorrow, and so comes a new challenge for all of us. Let’s hope the next phase goes as smoothly as the last.

Tandem Breastfeeding a Newborn & Toddler

As Babe, my daughter of two years and nine months enjoys breastfeeding so much, we as a family have chosen to let her decide the time in which she wants to wean from mummy milk. When I became pregnant with Boyo, my thoughts did not waver. In fact the more I learned about tandem nursing and the benefits, the more I wanted to be one of the lucky ones to give it a go.

So here we are, Boyo is six days old and I’m successfully tandem nursing them both. You might wonder how this works, from a supply, milk quality, logistics and relationship perspective.

Supply
The mama cow and her feeding equipment is amazingly adept at catering to the milk supply needs of both. Even as Babe has upped her intake for reassurance and desire for a joint snack experience, my body has been highly efficient in increasing the milk to serve both her and newborn Boyo. I’m definitely sporting a more top heavy look, which I’m embracing – shame about the post baby floppy belly though.

Milk Quality
A mamas body is geared up to provide the right milk for the new baby, so Babe has been enjoying the good stuff innabundance (colostrum). I know it’s pretty good produce because I’ve seen it (a thick rich yellow colour) and because Boyo had a fantastically small weight loss from birth. At his three day check, he had only lost 3% of his body weight, compared to the more average 8-10%. At day five he was over his birth weight, which usually doesnt occur till about day 10.

Logistics
Some mamas who tandem nurse won’t breastfeed their children/babies both at the same time. Whereas others have mastered the art of acrobatics in order to make the most of having a pair of boobs. This might be because nursing two at once can help for a quiet life, like me.

Babe doesn’t appreciate that there is a time and place for such antics. In front of dissapproving visitors is not the time to test mamas resolve, because right now she wins. “oh go on then, just a tiny bit”. The visitors are too polite (but most likely too scared) to say anything, but I know are judging me all the time. Am I bothered, clearly yes in some ways and in other ways no.

We’ve already established some favourite positions:

1) sitting on the sofa nursing Boyo in cradle hold, then Babe sits next to me and nurses from the side

2) sitting on a chair nursing Boyo in cradle hold, then Babe stands next to or in front of me drinking from the other side

3) more adventurous, same kind of position as above, but lying down or sitting up in bed

4) most adventurous to date involved lying down with nursing toddler then latching newborn on the other-side using football hold (he curled round my back or lay on a cushion).

Relationship
It’s tough on everyone’s emotions when you already have children and introduce a new baby. I’m conscious of the feelings of insecurity that Babe might be feeling. For me I have a mixed bag of conflicting emotions that combine with my desire to reassure and comfort my toddler, conflicting sometimes with my over powering instincts to protect and always be with my newborn. Then the guilt that comes with occasional resentfulness towards my needy toddler.

Tandem breastfeeding is helping Babe and I with these emotions and ensuring that our bond stays strong. This is the biggest benefit for me right now. Forget my desire to allow her to self wean, I’m just living in the moment.

39 Weeks Pregnant – Stamina Found

I’ve had a little change of heart, I’m no longer thinking ‘oh my, just get this baby out’.

Maybe I’ve found some patience? Mmm, somehow I doubt that, I am very much of a ‘now’ person.

I think it’s more to do with feeling more comfortable. The desire to throw up at bedtime has gone and the eating is going better. The fat huge belly thing is no longer getting to me as I’ve become accustomed to being huge, and have less incidents of accidental bump scraping. Plus baby Boyo is no longer beating me up as the lack of space is starting to restrict his movements.

Doesn’t this make a change, I’m not moaning again? It was getting rather boring wasn’t it?

Toddler Update
I’ve got more good news, Babe is less clingy and has been an absolute joy over the last few days. Apart from hacking at the kitchen wall with my hair slide.

She was even proud of her wall art efforts shouting, “mummy come and look at this“. Bless her, she clearly didn’t realise that it was wrong, but after some explaining cutely said to the wall, “so sorry wall, so sorry”. I couldn’t be angry, she didn’t understand. In my view, this was not the time for ‘discipline’. Ok, if she knew it was wrong and had been bloody minded, but she showed immediate remorse when I’d explained how bad it was and it was the first time.

I myself recall an incident when I was a toddler, of toffee hammering the hall wall and painting the dots in. I don’t recall if this was done intentionally to be naughty or just to experiment. I was subsequently locked in my room, where I proceeded with the biggest of tantrums by pulling all the clothes out of my drawers and showering them around the room. While wailing at the top of my voice.

Did it teach me that lesson? Honestly (sorry mum) but I’m not sure it did. I was just isolated and lonely and thinking about that, and less about the terrible wall art I’d just created.

Filling Time
The nice thing about being 39 weeks pregnant is that I’ve got most of the big jobs done and I’m able to focus on what I fancy doing when it comes to cleaning and life organisation. I’ve learnt the lesson of not staying in all day with a toddler and it’s working so much better for he both of us.

As my due date crawls nearer I’m also being sure to schedule activities in advance to look forward to and potentially cancel (wishful thinking). It’s also my birthday next week, so I’m starting to hope that maybe he will come late, like a week late so that he doesn’t rain on my parade. It’s my birthday, MINE. I’m sure in the future he too will appreciate my perspective on this.

At the same time, if he wanted to arrive like now, I’d be cool with that. Our birthdays would still be a week apart. I’ve also refreshed myself on the optimum active birthing positions thanks to going to the local Active Birth class last week. And should labour progress super quick and I accidentally end up having a homebirth I have vitamin K in my fridge ready for the ambulance team to administer to it to baby Boyo. Plus that drug for helping deliver the placenta should I need it, although my plan is for a physiological third stage of labour (to naturally deliver it without stimulation from drugs). I might add, at the other end of the spectrum I’ve also prepared my emergency cesarean birth plan, so every avenue is covered. The plan A though is to labour at home as long as possible and then drive to the low risk birth unit at the local hospital and give birth in the birthing pool.

So keep watching this space.

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Late Pregnancy: Come on Baby

I’ve almost had it with being pregnant. Tomorrow I’m 38 weeks and wishing it were the end. Surely this kid is nearly done baking?

The latest development in suffering has started to tip the balance. I’m still sleeping well, but getting increasingly tired, and hence not relishing my time with Babe (my toddler) as much. We’re still having a ball, I’m just finding it much harder than a week and a half ago.

WARNING: Don’t read the next bit if you don’t want to hear about puke.

The arrival of the desire to puke when I lie down is really ticking me off. And it’s not from nausea but a feeling at the back of my throat like my food has not gone down properly. Yet at the same time I’m blooming starving! Just before bed I really need to chow down a bowl full of cereal to keep up my nursing prego mama carbohydrates, but after a chunder incident the other night, I’m airing on the side of no ‘supper caution’. Instead I slope off to bed feeling a little hungry with a cereal bar to shove in my drawer should I wake up totally starving in the night.

The general food thing is driving me mad too, I can’t eat much and then I’m famished again 30 minutes later. I need an all day buffet in my house.

Bedtime is also disturbed by baby Boyo and his evening excersises, it sometimes feels like he is doing ten rounds in a boxing rink and I’m the opponent, except it’s dirty fighting where anything goes – kicks, head-buts, the lot.

So I’m now talking very sweetly (ok, so perhaps not so sweet) to baby Boyo, asking him to get a move on with his fattening up and final lung developments, and then get the hell outta there.

I’d really like him to be a September baby, as I am myself a Virgo. But I’d rather he didn’t make his arrival on my birthday. Which might yet be the case as his due date is a couple of days before. If I were to choose, and I know I can’t, but if I could, he would be born on Friday.

Babe, my toddler was nine days late, I’m really hoping that the theory (or is it an old wives tale?) that the second one is often early, comes through for us. Obviously I don’t want him to be born until all development is complete, and I won’t be forced into early induction at 10 days post due, but all the same I’d like it to be over with shortly.

Come on Boyo the end is nigh, it’s time for our meeting. Please don’t be late, that’s just not polite.

Pressures To Give Up Breastfeeding in First Six Months

Breastfeeding symbol

As discussions about having a newborn again in six months time go on, it reminds me of the pressures that society puts on mothers to give up breastfeeding before even the minimum recommended six months.

I’m not going to sugar coat the topic here, there is no denying that for a many the early months of breastfeeding are tough. Whether it’s first few day supply issues or the lack of social support, of even the dreaded mastitis.

What I resent the most is the general lack of society support, that immediately wants to offer mothers and fathers a short term easy fix. Honestly, there is no wonder so many switch to the bottle. And that’s not me looking down on you mums who do, I do appreciate some of the lengths you might have gone to to avoid this.

Do you intend on breastfeeding?
Erm, why the hell are people and medical professionals asking this? It should be a given. It’s MEDICALLY recommended duh?!

It’s much easier to bottle feed…some say
Honestly I’ve never done the bottle so I couldn’t talk from personal experience. If you’re not the strong maternal type and want to share the feeding load, I can see how that might be. For family who are desperate to be able to take care of baby, I can see how they might apply pressure. For me, I could wake up, nurse and drop straight back to sleep ( yes I love you beautiful chemical oxytocin). So it was easier. But it was right for me and more critically the best thing I could do for baby. This was me giving her the best start in life to fight diseases, develop healthily and have a healthy strong close bond with mummy.

You shouldn’t feel a failure if you can’t breastfeed
Ok so I know this is a tough one. Some mums who try so hard and don’t succeed are sometimes put on such a guilt trip, and that’s harsh. You don’t need that when your just getting to grips with being a mum. But for me, for arming me with this get out sympathy clause just made me more determined. I bought books ready for problem solving. I didn’t want to reach that hour of weakness and not know where to turn. And it helped. So did some of the helplines out there. I wish I had discovered the La Leche Legue earlier though, I have found them to be the best source of support and information.

Get some formula in just in case
Ok so this is being prepared, but surely it’s giving you an easy way out during those really tough moments? I did get some cartons of formula in, and everytime I saw them in the cupboard they made me dig my heels in further. I told you, I’m bloody minded (my poor hubby). But I wouldn’t recommend this at all. If you live within close reach of a 24 hour shop then there is no need. Get yourself some nice chocolate instead 😉

Oh all your baby does is feed
Yep, she’s a baby, she has a tiny belly. And get this, because my milk is so damn good it’s easier to digest than formula (this is a good thing BTW). It’s NORMAL for her to want to feed so frequently. Stop making me feel like a failure and let me do what’s medically the best I can do for my child! You can tell this was an issue for me, right? I felt like I was doing something so wrong because she wanted to feed every two hours. If my baby wants to feed every 30 minutes or less I now know that’s ok too.

What the health provider should have suggested was getting a sling that I could breastfeed in, that would mean I wasn’t chair bound. Why did no one mention this???

This time it’s gonna be different, this time I’m educated, this time I have my support network built and this time I know my own mind even more!

Other blog posts I’ve written on breastfeeding: