Changing Attitudes to parenting - a dad's perspective - By Mike Scott

Gender politics is a trending topic these days. From #MeToo to the Pay Gap we are (rightly, in my opinion) focusing our attention on greater equality and the barriers that women are breaking down every day. But the other part of that equation is the greater role that men are playing in family life.


When my uncle was born in 1947, my Grandfather was at work. His boss called him in: “Sparling,” he said, “I just received a call from the hospital. You’re a father - congratulations. Take the rest of the day off. Make sure you’re back in on time tomorrow.”

It was 4pm. My grandfather took the extra hour of paid work and went to meet his son for the first time. 9am sharp the next day he was at his desk, leaving my uncle to be raised mainly by his grandmother (my nanna also had a job to hold down, and there was no such thing as shared parental leave in those days.)

Cut to today. Dads have more opportunity than ever to be part of the A team in raising their children, and the first step is antenatal class. But here’s the truth lads, not many men find antenatal classes comfortable.

There’s a lot of...biology that gets discussed. Sometimes there are diagrams. So it’s easy to understand why many men aren’t going to feel at home in an antenatal class.

But here's the really important thing. As a partner, more important than the things you are or aren’t comfortable about, is how you engage with the class once you’re there. If you commit to the content and use it to make sure you focus on how you can be useful as you work towards (and beyond) birth - then everyone else will get more from it as well.

Today, my male friends all seem to be playing an instrumental part in the parenting process alongside mum. They are renegotiating their working hours, taking months of shared parental leave, and playing a role in educating, feeding and comforting their children almost as much as mum. And mums, of course, are in a stronger position to choose what form their new life takes - whether that’s returning to work, becoming a full time mum, or even launching their own businesses.

Everyone is different. Their children are different, their careers are different and personal circumstances change over time. The mortgage still has to be paid, and we all need food on the table. There isn’t really a single right answer, and that's why having the opportunity to share more of the load is so important.

I am grateful that today, dads have a better chance than ever to play a significant role in every step of their children’s lives. That’s a privilege and not a chore - so when you get the chance at that first antenatal class, hold your breath, smile and take notes, it's your first step towards fatherhood.

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My baby doesn't drink - Guest Blog from Pip & Alex

We have asked for our Mums to share their stories, things that relate to motherhood, birth, pregnancy, all things that may interest. you lovely Mummas…

Here is first up, the lovely Pip & Alex’s story…

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“My baby doesn’t drink! I don’t mean he’s fussy with a bottle, or he refuses the odd bit. I quite literally mean, my baby does not drink. The last few months in particular I’ve learnt what it’s really like to fight to get Alex the help he so desperately needs!

Alex has always been the most sweet natured little boy, but he has never really had it easy. When he was a matter of weeks old I started asking the doctors if his breathing was normal. My gut instinct said something was wrong but I was reassured that all was fine, and we got on adapting to life with two under twos. In the following weeks I returned to my GP frequently, his breathing developing a sound as if he was snoring when he was awake, but louder and just really wrong. We discussed whether he was dairy intolerant like my daughter and I adapted my diet accordingly, craving all dairy like mad. Then on another visit, where I was still insisting something was wrong but to a different GP, he agreed with me and had seen the same symptoms before. We were sent straight to hospital where Alex was monitored. The doctors explained to me that his windpipe was sometimes going floppy when he breathed, like sucking through a wet straw and the horrendous noise was called stridor. He was diagnosed with laryngomalacia and we were told to contact outpatients if his breathing became worse, but he would grow out of it as his cartilage hardened, by the age of 2.

Within a few weeks, during his stridor episodes, which were becoming much more frequent, his chest would cave in with each inhale and suck into his rib cage, his lips going blue. I went to my GP for the outpatient referral who said to ring 999 if we were concerned. “Don’t drive him to hospital yourselves in case he stops breathing while you’re driving”. I had known Alex’s condition could be serious but it suddenly seemed overwhelmingly real. As I walked home, pushing Alex in his pram, his chest recessions were the worst they’d ever been and the blue around his mouth darker. It was mid summer, but his hands and feet were freezing, another symptom I had been warned about. Could I really ring for an ambulance whilst walking home from the doctors? I thought through all my options and decided to leave it ten more minutes and see how his breathing was then. As the minutes passed, my husband and I watched him like a hawk but there was no improvement and each breath was a real struggle. We made the call. Moments before the ambulance came his breathing returned to normal and I was overwhelmingly relieved. The paramedics checked him over, and he showed no signs of the distress he’d been in moments before. I wondered whether I’d made the right decision to ring 999, was I just being paranoid, but the situation could have easily deteriorated further and there had been no way of knowing how he would be. We were taken into hospital for observation and discharged later that night.

Through all the worry, life continued as normal. We were still a family with a baby and a toddler who had decided, at not yet two, that she was ready to be potty trained, and that brought mayhem of its own. I think the whole family had been worried about how our strong willed, independent little girl was going to react to being a big sister, but she had surprised us by how well she had accepted Alex and considered him to be “her baby”.

With Alex’s floppy airway, we were terrified to let him cry in case it made his breathing worse. He was up for hours every night and when he did sleep for a few hours I would be terrified something had happened to him. Between the lack of sleep and stress I was utterly exhausted, and experiencing huge levels of mum guilt that I was letting Ava down with so much focus on her little brother and so little energy to give.

After some delays caused by errors with the referral, making me to go slightly ‘Tiger Mum’, Alex was seen at the Evelina Children’s Hospital in London by the most amazing ENT consultant who put us at ease and within weeks of our appointment was operating to see what was going on. He confirmed Alex did have laryngomalacia and also a very mild form of tracheomalacia which is where part of the trachea goes floppy in the same way his larynx did. The conditions combined meant that actually his laryngomalacia wasn’t as bad as we had thought and we were told we could let Alex cry without fear of awful consequences.

We moved Alex into his own room and settled into a bit more of a routine, worrying less now we knew more about his condition. Life was pretty normal, or as normal as it ever can be with a baby and toddler, with the exception of Alex having developed horrendous constipation that went on for weeks and weeks. I kept trying to get Alex to take a bottle so I could stop breastfeeding but he just wasn’t interested. I’d initially planned to stop breastfeeding at 6 months but with his breathing problems and breastfeeding settling him so easily, further months had passed. At ten months old, as I was about to return to work I bit the bullet and over a couple of weeks at the start of the year, I dropped a feed every couple of days. I couldn’t believe how stubborn he was being. As I continued dropping feeds he was just waking more through the night and trying to have the feeds then until he wasn’t having anything during the day and was then having feeds every few hours all night. Enough was enough and I stopped breastfeeding.

Alex didn’t drink! Nothing. Literally, nothing. I thought he was just being stubborn and he’d give in, the internet seemed to think so too, so I persevered and my milk quickly dried up. He was having some milk on his cereal and he would demolish Ella’s kitchen fruit pouches in seconds but that was the grand total of his liquid. We tried every cup and bottle with every liquid at every temperature. No success. I was at an utter loss as to what to do. I tried adding thickeners but they were flatly refused. I asked the health visitor who also thought he was just being stubborn and would drink soon, my GP thought the same. After a fortnight I was starting to think something was wrong. After three weeks I knew something was very wrong and was desperate for anyone to listen to me. His eyes were sunken and he had huge grey bags under them and he had lost his cheeky spark. He would cry for hours but as the days went by, he stopped crying tears. He could have stayed in a single nappy for a few days and his constipation was causing him agony. Each time I took him to the doctors I was told he was just the right side of the line for needing medical intervention, but he was just surviving off the fruit pouches. This was far beyond stubbornness.

In early April, by which point he would just sit for periods of time staring, I made the heartbreaking decision to request an NG tube, putting a tube up his nose and into his stomach to put liquid through. He was monitored for 24 hours in hospital. I was asked to collect a urine sample, which from a dehydrated baby is virtually impossible, so he spent much of the time naked from the waist down with me chasing him around both the cot and the ward with a small plastic cup, failing miserably to get anything! He drank 50ml of water over 24 hours and it was agreed he needed the tube. I was trained how to use it and discharged with referrals to the speech and language feeding team and the dietician. The difference in Alex was immediate. His constipation cleared up, he looked healthy and his eczema went away. We saw the most wonderful speech and language therapist who gave us some ideas to try and reduce anxiety and began straight away. Alex swiftly became an expert in pretending to drink.

It took a bit of getting used to the looks people gave us. The sympathetic head tilt and smile, marginally better than the stares and points. I had, or rather, I have, no regrets that I asked for the tube, but I do hate that he needs it and tube life does throw a fair few challenges. A snotty teething baby does not make keeping a plaster attached to his cheek easy! In the first few days the tube came out frequently and I was constantly ringing the children’s community nurses who are just the most caring and compassionate team, and the very best of the NHS. My record so far is them being at my door within ten minutes of me ringing to say Alex had yet again pulled the tube out! Our toddler did not react well to our stay in hospital and the NG tube. She found it scary when myself and the nurses pinned ‘her’ baby down as he screamed and I lacked the additional arms to comfort her while they both needed me. We bought her a teddy and fitted it with its own tube and the nurses included her as much as they could, showing her how to test the pH to make sure the tube was in the right place. Her medical training seemed to be beginning young!

My husband and I soon learned to change the plasters whilst the tube remained in ourselves and were only needing help to put the tube back in when it was pulled out, but with a holiday to Cyprus looming, I was taught how to put it in myself. A meningitis scare from my daughter the day before our holiday meant this had in fact been unnecessary, but it has made life easier to be a bit more independent, albeit a slightly terrifying responsibility.

Due to some further referral errors, the dieticians had not heard about Alex and so had yet to be in contact. I won’t go into details as the referral is currently being investigated, but 2 months on we have just seen the dietician who was so lovely and helpful, and Alex is now getting the liquid his body needs, having only been on less than half what he is currently on for the first two months of his tube, which had caused him to become quite unwell again.


We still don’t know why Alex doesn’t drink. It might be linked to his laryngomalacia but we just don’t know. He’s being referred to a more specialist feeding team and we are waiting a swallow study to see if there’s a physical reason, but for now he drinks next to nothing and anything he does swallow has more air than liquid taken in, which we then take out through his tube.

Drinking seems like such a basic skill it is heartbreaking that he finds it so hard, but I hold onto the hope that he will learn how and that in the coming year he grows out of his laryngomalacia. His stridor is currently far worse at night than during the day and I can still spend hours listening to him, scared to sleep while I know he is struggling, but it is getting far less frequent. Every doctor, nurse and specialist have been absolutely amazing, the system just seems so broken in terms of referrals. For now we continue as we are, with my superstar just turned 3 year old now willing and able to help me put his tube back in when my husband is at work, without us needing to call for help. I’m sure every parent thinks so, but my kids really are quite amazing!”

Thank you for sharing Pip xx

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10 reasons why is getting good support so vital in the early weeks with a new baby!

Having a baby and learning to be a mother is not meant to be a journey that you walk alone! It is absolutely essential for your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing to be surrounded by loving, nurturing support during this time of transition to motherhood. This might come from your own mother or mother-in-law, a good friend, or a maybe postnatal doula, whose role is to provide experienced, nurturing care during those first weeks of motherhood.

During those first days and weeks as a new mother, you have so much to contend with- just consider for a few moments these 10 reasons why extra support is not only fully justified but totally indispensable!

As a new mother you are...

1. Recovering from birth-

Whether you have had a natural vaginal birth, stitches, a birth with help from the doctors, or a Ceasarean, they all take a varying toll on your body. You may have had other medical issues brought on by pregnancy that impact your recovery. You need to come to love and embrace your new wrinkly tummy and changes to your breasts or extra pregnancy weight. Whatever your circumstances, your body has just done a totally amazing job of growing a tiny human and giving birth, your pregnancy placed demands on you comparable to an endurance sport, and you simply can’t expect to bounce back immediately! You need to allow yourself time to rest and heal and for your body to gradually adjust in order to make a full physical recovery. Many cultures place a much higher priority on this than we do in the UK, expecting new mothers to stay in bed for days on end and be waited on hand and foot! This may well not be possible for you, but there is a lot of wisdom in those cultures who invest so much and place great ceremony and importance on nurturing a new mum with rest, love, good food and no responsibility for jobs in the house.

2. Bonding with baby

You have a new family member to get to know! You will spend the next 18 years or more together, so take the time to really get to know each other. Spend your days in eye contact, smiles, skin-to-skin, baby talk, rocking and holding your baby, gentle touch, baby massage, carrying close in a sling, watching closely so you can learn your baby’s cues for feeding, sleep and other needs. Don’t rush on with jobs, let someone else do those things, and you can be freed to invest the early weeks in really familiarising yourself with your baby. This will pay off immeasurably in the long run, you will have a close bond and a secure attachment with your baby.

3. Establishing feeding

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If you are breastfeeding your new baby, you both have a lot to learn! How to hold your baby, what positions work well, how to recognise a good latch, how to watch for swallowing properly, learning to be confident in your milk supply. Maybe learning to express milk or feed from a bottle with expressed milk or how to make up formula may factor in your situation- however you choose to feed your baby, you need to allow time to learn, and deal with the challenges it may bring. Its helpful to allow plenty of skin-to-skin contact in the early days will help to establish a good milk supply, allow baby unlimited access to the breast whenever needed and you need to expect to be spending hours on end sitting on the sofa feeding! This is normal, but it is all very time consuming, so having help to keep the house jobs under control to allow you to sit and feed baby is a real blessing. Find a trained breastfeeding supporter or lactation consultant to help if you have questions or struggles.

4. Adapting to new roles

Becoming a new mother can be quite a daunting prospect. It may be your first baby, and therefore a
brand new role to learn, or you may be adjusting to having a new baby in addition to older children in the family. Either way this is a challenge. It’s a real period of transition and you need to be patient with yourself and your partner as you adjust and learn. This takes time but soon you will find you begin to feel more

competent as a mother, more able to confidently make good decisions for your baby, and begin to enjoy the new role! You may be more familiar with the corporate work environment, being in control of life, and meticulous planning and have project management down to a tee- but having a newborn in the house doesn't work like this, and can throw your world upside down. Give yourself the time and support to adjust to this, and surround yourself with people who value motherhood and will help you as you grow.

5. Dealing with many emotions

Hormones are all over the place in the postnatal period, tiredness is often a huge factor, and there is much to learn. So you will naturally find your emotions are up and down like a yo-yo. You may be tearful, anxious, fearful, overwhelmed, or suffer from mum-guilt. You will have times of sheer joy as you gaze into your baby’s eyes and wonder how you could make such a sweet human. There will be times probably when you resent your partner for sleeping through the night or not noticing something that could be done to help. There will be times when you walk proudly together hand in hand round the park with the baby contentedly cooing at you! This is one of the periods in your life when you will most need patient, understanding and loving emotional support. Find someone who encourages you, to reassures you, tells you what a great job you are doing. To make tea and listen to you cry when its tough. To hold your hand. And remember its OK to not be OK, you don’t have to love every moment! If you are really struggling, please speak to your health visitor or GP.

6. Lacking in sleep

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We all know how much harder life’s demands are when you are over-tired, and this is a particular challenge with a new baby as you will almost certainly be considerably down on sleep. Having someone you trust to keep and eye on the baby during the day for an hour so you can sleep can make an enormous difference to how you cope as a new mum. Knowing you will have an uninterrupted hour of sleep later in the day can keep you going through a difficult, wakeful night shift, and can save your sanity! Try and make this a priority a couple of times a week if at all possible, and plan to have a trusted visitor over to help in this way.

7. Needing good food

As you deal with tiredness, establish your milk supply, and recover from the birth, your body needs good nourishment and good hydration. However it can be near impossible to find time to make yourself a healthy meal, and its easy to grab sugary snacks that give you an initial energy boost, but have little nutritional value. Ask friends who visit to bring a meal for you, batch cook in advance of baby’s arrival so you have a well- stocked freezer, have some items in your stock cupboard that can be used to produce simple, nourishing meals. Arrange a weekly online shop to be delivered with the regular basics like bread, juice, milk, eggs and plenty fresh fruit and veg, this way you shouldn’t find yourself ordering too many take aways, and there should always be something you can use in the cupboard if you are caught short!

8. Worried about older siblings

If you have an older child or children as well as your baby, you will be conscious of their needs, and be anxious to make sure they get plenty of love too. This can be a challenge with a new baby in the family, so you can make this work by getting another pair of hands involved! Friends, family or a postnatal doula could take a sibling out to the park or for a fun trip for an hour or so, to allow you time with your baby, or alternatively, you can ask them to hold the baby for a while so you can spend uninterrupted time with your toddler. Find some games like hunt the hidden plastic coins whilst you are feeding baby (hide 10 coins between feeds!) or get some bits together in a special box that comes out only at feed times, so your older child can look forward to that and not hinder you! Special books, threading games, a torch, a sealed container of full of rice with tiny things hidden inside to find, magnetic fishing etc can all be good fun and keep them busy for a few minutes.

9. Adjusting to new demands in your relationship with your partner

You are both going through a tricky time of readjustment, so try to be patient with each other, and make sure you communicate your needs and emotions well. If it is possible, try to protect occasional space with each other to just relax and reflect and enjoy one another's company. Make allowances for tiredness, do all you can to meet each others needs, don’t have too high expectations of one another! Be an encourager, don’t

criticise, spot things to praise and say ’I love you’ lots! Being a mutual support for one another goes such a long way during the early weeks with a baby, although the pressures and new responsibilities on you both make this very challenging! Remember, you are in this together!

10. Finding your village

After things settle down and you start to feel able to get out and about, make it a top priority to find a good support network that you can meet with regularly.
Friendship, acceptance, love and support are really fundamental to new mothers thriving, and you can share your ideas and concerns together. BUT do your best not to compare or judge one another! You could try toddler groups, NCT groups, children’s centres, maybe baby massage or exercise classes. Or simply find a group of friends to go out for walks together followed by a cuppa. Be brave and invite people to your home and build your village!

Wow, that is a tall order for anyone in the space of a few weeks or months! It’s easy to see how having the right support in place should be a blessing that every new mother enjoys to help her on this journey. If you don’t have friends or family that can offer you the reassurance, encouragement, practical help and time you need, see if there is space in your budget for some support from a postnatal doula. In the long run, it can easily be considered money better spent than choosing the fanciest travel system or having every latest (non essential) gadget that you see!

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A postnatal doula is experienced, knowledgeable and caring person who provides practical and emotional support to families with a new baby, particularly focussing on the new mother. She will encourage, nurture and reassure you as a new mother, as well as provide hands-on practical support in the home. This allows you time to bond with your new baby, to get some rest, and to thrive in your new role as your baby grows!

More info about the author, Janine Ebling, an experienced postnatal doula in Guildford and Woking are of Surrey- www.nurturingmotherhood.co.uk

Or for a directory of doulas across the UK- www.doula.org.uk

Cry Baby - Listening to Babies

I Decided to write this following a post from Constance Hall Facebook page the other day.

It talked of her difficulty with her newest baby, Raffi, nearly 1. She talks of her struggle with his desire to breastfeed thought the night, how she did sleep training with her twins, she says:


”Of course people on facebook linked me studies to prove I was fucking them up long term, giving them anxiety, proving to them that they cannot rely on me, but I saw I had no choice. I was on the verge, a shell of my former self.”

I wrote a post on Facebook saying we have to stop making women feel shit for doing what they feel is right. I lost 7 followers within the space of 6hrs (but also 61 likes & 13 comments from mums that had experienced the same).

Our negativity & hysteria towards letting babies cry is getting out of hand. To all good mums, their baby is by far the most precious being on the planet. The sound of that cry is the most awful noise in the world, I defy any mum to choose to listen to her baby cry. However, crying is the ONLY method of communication a baby has.

It may be the only method of communication but there are lots of things to say. Especially with a 6, 7, 8m old baby. I am hungry, I am thirsty, I am tired, I have had enough, I want to play with that plug socket, I want to sleep in your bed, I don’t want to sleep, I do want to sleep, the list goes on…

Our job as parents is to try and do what we believe is best for our baby. Sometimes that is doing something they don’t understand is in their best interest. For example, a baby who has been awake all afternoon, and is wired with adrenline, needing to sleep, some babies may protest cry at our knowledge that they NEED to go to bed.

We seem to be hugely pro empowering mums, until it comes to saying no to our babies. Mums are expected to carry on rocking or feeding to sleep, as that is what baby wants. Now that is fine if that is what MUM wants. But if mum doesn’t want to do that, and she trusts that her baby is warm, fed, watered and safe, and wants to put that baby down to sleep without whatever prop is being used, that is HER choice! That baby WILL NOT be damaged by those actions. I never had time to spend hours at bedtime, as a working mum my evenings were my time to get work done (I went back to teaching 4 evenings a week when my youngest was 4months, he was exclusively breastfed and he didn’t have the option to feed all evening, the boobs left at 6, and came back at 10pm). My kids had to go down and go to sleep in their own time, I didn't have time to rock, or sit on floors. But that is MY choice! No one has the right to tell me that that choice is wrong!

This isn’t about teaching a child to sleep, or the method you choose do to do that. You can feed to sleep, rock to sleep, or use no prop and sleep train. This is about hysteria over something that can make mums feel SO crap. I KNOW babies have needs, I KNOW babies can’t manipulate, but I also know that they don’t understand that sometimes we know better than them what those needs are. Or sometimes our needs are greater or on a par with theirs. Does that make us selfish? No, we give everything to our children, it is ok, sometimes to say no. This is 100% different to neglect, babies left to cry for days/weeks on end in Romanian orphanages are NEGLECTED. Of course they learn not to cry anymore, of course they will be damaged, this is NOT the same as “cry it out” or “controlled crying”.

I think as mums we can sometimes react too quickly to our crying baby, we are too scared to listen to what they are saying to us. Especially if we are breastfeeding, we just assume that cry is hunger, we can then end up with a situation whereby we feel as a breastfeeding mum we can’t keep up, we aren’t producing enough milk, as our baby still cry’s (because it isn’t a hunger issue).

So we do need to listen to babies, it isn’t about not meeting their needs, its about learning what those need are, and not panicking if our baby cries.

Mums, do your thing, if it doesn't’ feel right, don’t do it, if it does, do. Your baby will be a happier being wth a happier empowered mum.

Why your Newborn won't lay flat

I often read in mum social media groups, pleas from new mums asking how they can encourage their newborn baby to lay in their cot/Moses basket. The sad truth is you really can’t. Swaddling can help some babies, however a Newborn is used to the environment of the womb, and this is very different to the outside world.

This amazing image of a baby born via CS still in its caul, shows perfectly the position of baby within the womb, how the baby is curled & contained!

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The “Safe Sleep” campaign, formerly known as the “Back to Sleep” campaign of the 1990’s encouraged mums to lay their babies on their backs to sleep rather than their fronts. This advice still stands as a prevention against SIDS, however, it isn’t natural for a curled and foetal baby with no limb control, and a moro reflex to lay flat.

The Moro Reflex, also known as the startle reflex, doesn’t integrate until 3-4months old, so when a baby is moved from being held to laying down, the reflex can be initiated. This can make the baby feel like it is falling. A baby under 3-4m has no limb control so once those arms startle and begin to flail the baby feels physically more insecure.

I have known mums try everything to keep their baby from waking when laying down, one even tried ironing the Moses basket sheet to make it feel warm when she laid baby down, it doesn't work lol.

When you hold your baby, you contain the arms and legs, and the moro reflex is contained. A good stretchy wrap/sling can at least give you your hands free whist baby is in this position. This is also where swaddling can be beneficial. Swaddling is NOT a hands free option, you need to swaddle, rock & calm but when you go to lay baby down, if those arms are contained well in a swaddle, that moro reflex is also contained, so baby may not startle/wake.

Mummas has a big focus on helping Mums understand the 4th trimester, check out our 4th Trimester & Swaddling Videos.

It is REALLY normal, and it WILL disappear, you just need to ride it out. Invest in a good sling (I love the caboo stretchy), have a go at swaddling (check out our video, and if your baby is 6w upwards try the Miracle blanket) and I promise it will pass.

The rise of Tongue Tie

The rates of babies showing evidence of Tongue Tie are increasing, anecdotally out of some of our recent Antenatal Courses as many as 7 out of 8 babies born, were diagnosed with Tongue Tie of some kind, and this isn’t unusual.

I have heard people say that Tongue Tie diagnosis “in vogue” right now, but we deal with women on a day to day basis. Women who feel the pressure to breastfeed and find themselves flailing without support in many cases. Tongue Tie either being missed and not spotted, or mum being advised that the tie is “minimal”.

Tongue Tie isn’t just about nipple pain, or failure to thrive, though these are two obvious signs. We have had a huge increase in the diagnosis on Reflux & Colic over the last few years. Now I believe some of this is down our expectations of what is normal in a newborn (see previous blog), but also down to our breastfeeding rates & Tongue Tie issues. The last UK Wide infant feeding survey was conducted in 2010, where BF rates were up 76% from 2005, but exclusive BF at 4m was still only 12%.

Why Is Tongue Tie assessment important?

When a baby feeds it needs full mobility in the tongue, watch this video to further understand how the tongue works in breastfeeding.

Symptoms of Tongue Tie:

  • Nipple Pain

  • Poor weight gain

  • Prolonged feeding

  • Excessive crying

  • Gulping air (wind, tummy pain)

These are not exclusive to Tongue Tie but it is worth considering. If baby is unable to feed effectively it WILL lead to problems (breast or bottle).

Reflux, Colic & Tongue Tie:
Reflux & Colic diagnosis’s seem to be on the rise, and the amount of babies medicated for one or the other is increasing.

Reflux & Colic are a set of symptoms, these include:

  • Excessive Crying

  • Back Arching

  • Pulling off mid feed

  • Projectile vomiting

  • Tummy Pain

When a baby shows these symptoms mum will usually take baby to the GP, depending on the GP Reflux may be diagnosed, and if mum is breastfeeding she may be encouraged to switch to formula and/or baby will be given medication (usually gaviscon or ranitidine).

If baby has a Tongue Tie it could either not be transferring enough milk so those symptoms could be hunger, or baby may not have a good seal over the breast, and could be drawing off too much air (this can be defined as “clicking” when feeding).

A baby’s digestive system is immature and developing. Cows milk can be very hard for some humans to digest. Lactose intolerance & CMPA (Cows Milk Protein Allergy) are on the rise. We seem to be the only species who actively seek out and drink the milk of another.

If there is a family history of atopy (asthma, eczema, allergies) cows milk may prove more problematic for a tiny baby to digest, leading to digestive issues (colic/reflux).

Breastmilk is the ONLY milk totally designed for YOUR babies digestive system, and mum should be encouraged to continue to breastfeed with reflux symptoms. She should however, be supported with dietary changes (possible elimination of dairy etc) and latch support to ensure baby is feeding as effectively as possible.

If baby is bottle fed, Tongue Tie can still cause issues, the tongue is an important mechanism in all aspects of baby feeding.

Photo Credit - Milk Matters

Photo Credit - Milk Matters

Diagnosing Tongue Tie:
Some ties can be very hard to spot, This should be done by a properly trained professional, you can get support with this through the Lactation Consultants of Great Britain.

There is no such thing as a “minor tie” babies tongue is either restricted or it isn’t.

Treatment for Tongue Tie:
Tongue Tie Division is a really simple procedure. It can be done at the baby’s home or in the consultants clinic. Different NHS trusts have different procedures, so many parents will turn to a private consultant. Again this needs to be a properly trained and qualified consultant and one can be found here Association of Tongue Tie Practioners

Risks of Division:
Risks of division are detailed by the Evelina Hospital London as:

  • A small amount of bleeding

  • A short-term, intermediate infection

  • The Tongue Tie growing back

It is therefore really important that you see a properly qualified practitioner who will give you suitable aftercare advice.

Breast feeding doesn’t come naturally to many, it can be hard. The way to ensure the best outcome for breastfeeding is getting properly, qualified support. We place so much emphasis on breastfeeding, but supply such little support.


Parenting is getting harder - Putting baby in the centre of a commercial world.

This is one I have been mulling over for a while….the reason being, we seem to be getting our knickers in such a twist over parenting recently, we seem to be making it so much harder than it actually is. When I say we, I don’t mean Mums, I mean us supposed “experts”. Us that are supposed to be supporting mums.

The explosion in baby businesses, most of which claim to support mum, in my opinion actually make life harder. The sharing of unhelpful articles, supposed research and the invention of problems that need to be solved by buying specific products or doing specific things. So many people now making money out of the mums and babies.

Don’t get me wrong, there are some amazing products and businesses out there which are doing brilliant things, but the more stuff that is invented, the more parenting boxes we create, the less we trust our instincts and the more we feel the need to listen to others.

I get really cross with my mum when she says, but in my day it wasn’t an issue, or in my day we didn’t even consider that. Because in her day the world was a totally different place, you can’t compute what happened in the 70s & 80s to what is happening now. But, she has a point…

In her day we did just parent, we didn't have half the gadgets or terms we have now. Our desire to find “normal”, our desire to not do damage to our baby, we know too much! There is no other point in the human race where we try and find so much “normal”, where we worry and stress so much as parenthood, brought about in part, by the multi billion dollar industry that is the baby market. Babies are so, so important, but mums are more important! Why? Because any good mum, the 99.9% of the population of mothers who are good, will automatically put their babies first, our job as “experts” is to put mum first!

Breast is best - for baby and for mum in some instances, but breast is never best at the detriment to mum! I saw a comment in a Facebook group the other day. Mum had posted that she was at breaking point, she had 3 children, including a 9m breastfed baby. She was living in a hostel and sleeping on the floor with her baby who fed non stop throughout the night. She said she had had enough, she was broken, and one mum decided to respond with: “I know how hard it is, but your baby is having a stressful time too, I wouldn’t take the boob away from him, that his comfort thing…” this to me is totally shocking!! Breast is NOT that important, baby will get over that!

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I am a massive fan of breastfeeding, and breastfed all three of mine, but I did it because it worked for me, it was easier for me, I was lucky and it just worked,I have seen women broken by breastfeeding. There is a massive lack of support argument here, and that is a different blog, but if it isn't working, stop!

Parenting Boxes - continuing to box parenting styles continues to pit parents against each other:

Attachment Parenting - insinuating if we don’t follow a particular parenting style we will have a lesser attachment (genuinely isn’t true!)

Gentle Parenting - Again insinuating if we don’t do it all “gently” we aren’t doing it properly!

Responsive Parenting - This is something we all are, if we just let it happen, we don’t need to name it!

Baby Wearing & Baby Led Weaning - Again, there are plenty of mum benefits for these, but we are sold them as benefits to baby. I HATE the term Baby Wearing, mum is simply wearing a good sling!? Again insinuating if we do these things, they are better for baby!?

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Cry it out - Always a controversial one, I don’t care how mum chooses to parent. Babies cry, fact! It is their only method of communication, and always seen as a negative. I remember one mum saying leaving a baby to cry was akin to child abuse, it isn’t. Leaving a baby to cry for days on end is neglect, leaving a baby to cry whilst you go to the loo, or put it down for a nap is not. You can’t damage a child by letting it cry anymore than you can spoil it with love.

If we stop naming these things, we stop putting ourselves in boxes, and pitting ourselves against each other.

Babies are the centre of our world as Mums, we would always do our best by our child. But OUR best is not someone else’s best. What breaks one person will make another.

Lets stop over complicating this. Drop the boxes, drop the terms and just be mums.

Humans are so complex, ignore all supposed scientific research into what is best for baby (Read my blog on Parenting getting harder here or Scientific Research here)

Your baby is massively important, we will always put our baby’s needs before our own. But YOU ARE AS IMPORTANT!! So let us start supporting ALL mums, stop making her justify her actions, just let her be mum, it is hard enough anyway!

Parenting is getting harder Series - Blog 3 - Judgement + Social Media - A recipe for disaster!

Parenting is getting harder Series - Blog 3 - Judgement + Social Media - A recipe for disaster!

Judgement - something we all do, it is human nature, but add it to social media, and it is a true recipe for disaster and another reason parenting is getting harder!

This blog has been sparked by a post put up by Helen Flanagan who posted on her Instagram that she was weaning, shock, horror her baby is only 5m! She was inundated with others opinions on what an awful mother she was (READ IT HERE ). Some of the comments are totally shocking!

Why Parenting Is Getting Harder Series - Blog 2 - Social Media, Parenting Labels & "Experts"

So here we are, blog 2 on how parenting is getting harder! This week I am focussing on Social Media, Parenting Labels/Boxes & “Experts”

Social Media
Social Media has exploded in the last 5-10yrs, I admit to being totally addicted, but it drives me insane in equal measures!

I can’t tell you how frustrated I get with the things I see shared, that add to mums anxieties, and take away from her instinct. Some things are beneficial, others make me want to pull my teeth out! The supposed “scientific research” we talked about on the last blog, one post in particular shared by many of my “birthing & baby” colleagues talked of the “dangers of ignoring a crying baby”. Melancholic music, images of tiny babies being left to cry, switched with older children looking sad and forlorn. Now I will say It again, ignoring a baby for prolonged periods, will teach your baby that there is no point in communicating, this can lead to damage, but this is commonly known as neglect! Very different to a mum who puts down her baby to go for wee/shower/poo, or even a mum who chooses to do “cry it out” “controlled crying” (check out the labels below).

Some things shared on social media just add to our stress, anxiety and take our instinct. It can also give us a massively false sense of how everyone else is coping! We put a front on for our social profiles, mums coping, baby happy/smiling, mum in control, the reality is likely to be very, very different. I used to be very prevalent on social media when I was at the height of a very difficult time, running recently launched business and dealing with a brand new baby and 2 other children. The most commented thing on my posts was “I don’t know how you do it”, what those people didn’t see was the chaotic, totally messy house, the husband who would frequently be on the end of my unable to cope rant, and my frequent melt downs, but none of that made it to Social Media. I talked about how busy I was, and how hard I found it, but people perceived me to be some kind of superwoman! I really, really wasn’t!!

Parenting Labels/Boxes!
Cry It Out, Controlled Crying, Baby Wearing, Attachment Parenting, Gentle Parenting, Baby Led Weaning AGGGHHHH I hate boxes!! All this does is put us mums in “camps” and usually ends up with us pitting ourselves against each other…”I follow “Attachment Parenting” so couldn’t possibly do “controlled crying””.

For me personally, I have never had to use “controlled crying” or “cry it out” but all of my kids have been left to cry at various points, for various reasons and for varying lengths. My third born spent most of the first 12m of his life in a sling, but I didn’t “baby wear”. By labelling stuff, we are putting ourselves in boxes, which can then impact how we deal with others. I have had so much negative (and for negative see really bloody rude) comments when I have talked about it being ok for a baby to cry. The reason is that they immediately presume I mean “cry it out” and this has been so negatively portrayed and labelled by some channels.

“Experts”
We seem to be totally loosing the ability to understand what is “normal” in a baby, and “experts” out there plus an array of commercial products on sale to supposedly help mum (see blog 3) aren’t helping!

Some of these “experts” are amazing and doing brilliant things, some I can't help but feel, are jumping on what they perceive to be the cash cow of the birth & baby industry. If you are reading something, or someone is offering advice that doesn't sit right, check out why they are saying it. If they have a financial interest in you questioning your instinct, or they are suggesting something that doesn’t feel right, and they financially going to benefit, you are right to question.

Sometimes the more books, website, articles and the more we listen to supposed “experts” the more cloudy our judgement gets and the less we trust that we have most of the answers, but it can be really hard to trust that in ourselves! That isn’t to say you shouldn’t list to “experts” it is to say if something doesn’t sit right, if you don’t like what you are reading or hearing, YOU ARE THE EXPERT - Trust and believe in that, I promise it Is true.

This has literally just come up on my news feed….

“How do you mummies put your little one to sleep? I feel like I’m a rubbish mum I didn’t realise you weren’t meant to let them fall asleep at the breast 😖 need some advice!”

There is no “meant to” in motherhood, you do whatever the bloody hell you want, IT IS YOUR BABY, and EVERY SINGLE one of them is different.

#ForgeYourOwnPath

Why Parenting is getting harder Series - Blog 1 - “Scientific Evidence”

Why Parenting is getting harder Series - Blog 1 - “Scientific Evidence”

This has been pondering and rolling around in my head for a while now, as many blogs do! My “Babies” are now 13, 10 & 5yrs and I look at how different the “parenting” world is now compared to when I had my first 13yrs ago. It is most definitely getting harder, not because being a mum is harder, but this modern world is making it harder, I am going to try and decipher here why! The plan was to run it as one blog, but I started on the first thing “scientific evidence” and it was so long I decided to run it as a series!!

Breastfeeding & Routine

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This is a blog has been rolling around my head for the last few months, with the recent dispatches program, I thought it was a timely time to write it now.

I need to caveat this with:

  •  This is purely MY experience, as a mum to 3 breastfed babies, and a teacher who has worked with  women postnatally. I am however no breastfeeding “expert”.
  • I genuinely DON'T care if you breastfeed or not, I care if you have had the choice taken away, and I will continue to campaign for better support. 
  • This is not for the fourth trimester - See my top tips below
  • I am hugely pro breastfeeding if a mum WANTS to do it. Breast is best for a baby, but NOT at the detriment to mums mental health. 

Breastfeeding will not necessarily make your baby more intelligent, healthy, or give you a better bond. But breastmilk IS the ONLY food that is 100% designed for YOUR baby. YOUR body makes it especially for YOUR baby, and it is freaking awesome stuff. I am someone who opts for easy parenting! Breastmilk is less likely to cause you issues with colic & reflux, and when you get it established it is 100% easier than bottle feeding due to a lack of having to make and clean bottles, plus it is dirt cheap!

I truly believe if we supported women who want to establish routines, and who don’t want to be quite so “baby led”, we could impact our breastfeeding rates. I also think we need to help women understand baby’s cues and what baby is communicating to us, to help them to understand feeding cues over other cues. 

There are so many reasons why your baby cries, understandably when you breastfeed you automatically presume its hunger, the boob sorts everything out! But it can lead to women not trusting in their bodies, baby seems to be constantly “hungry”, and mum feeling overwhelmed by a baby being permanently attached to them. 

So, as I have said, this is purely MY experience, and MY journey.

There is this assumption, or presumption, that when you breastfeed a baby you have to let baby be in control, and you end up with a baby permanently attached to your boobs - “demand” feeding.  I didn’t have this luxury, I had recently opened my business, had an 8yr and a 5yr, and really wasn’t able to sit down and breastfeed for hours on end. My 10 day Midwife sign off was carried out at work in a side room because I couldn’t be at home. Now whether I was right to be working so early, is a totally different debate, I was, I needed to be, and I WANTED to breastfeed.

Here are my top tips for breastfeeding and routine:

Use the 4th trimester to learn:
A baby under 3-4m doesn't have the ability to understand consequences of actions, they can’t be spoiled, they don’t understand when they cry a boob comes or they get picked up. They cry as a reflex to a physical need, it could be hunger, pain, over stimulation its your job to work out what your baby is communicating to you, and the 4th trimester is the time to learn.  

Those first 3-5m are your time to learn, you need to learn who your little human is, and he needs to learn how to integrate his body in the outside world. Don’t try pushing anything strict or trying too hard in this time, it is fruitless and will make your miserable. You can’t develop bad habits (or if you do they are quickly broken). 

Your milk supply is also establishing during this time. Your body will make the perfect amount of milk for your baby, so they will feed little and often. As the fourth trimester goes on you will begin to understand how baby's feeding cues differs from his tired or over stimulation cues. Your boobs are like factories not storehouses, we need to establish a happy balance where your body makes just the right amount of milk for your baby. 

See a Lactation Consultant and get GOOD support:
See a  properly qualified, and trained LACTATION consultant. Get baby's latch checked and if they have Tongue Tie get it cut. 

You need to know you are starting off from a baseline where your baby is feeding efficiently. It DOES hurt when you first breastfeed, but knowing what is normal and what isn’t is important as pain is subjective, so get the latch checked!

The chance of developing PND increases by 50% for those mums who want to breastfeed and can’t, in most cases women who stop feeding do so through to lack of support. 

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Use a dummy:
I am gonna get shot down in flames by the breastfeeding militants for this! I totally get that introducing anything into baby’s mouth that isn’t a boob COULD lead to nipple confusion, however, MY opinion is, our babies are far cleverer that we give them credit for.   Adding a dummy to the calming techniques below can be a huge benefit to an over tired/stimulated baby. 

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Introducing a bottle
Now I wouldn’t personally do this, or express, until you feel totally established with breastfeeding. You will hear differing stories about when the “right time” is to introduce a bottle. There really isn't one, it is totally dependent on YOUR baby, and they are all totally different. Sucking a bottle is a method of feeding, and for lazy feeders, a bottle is much easier than a boob, so you do risk confusion and impacting feeding by doing it too early.

Expressing too early can lead to an over or under supply, remember your boobs are factories not warehouses, they will make the milk you need, if you express you run the risk of your body making more (potentially getting blocked ducts/ mastitis) or taking away what your baby wants to drink. Wait until you feel established and in a happy routine of feeding (this may well change with growth spurts etc, but you feel generally in control of it).

Use calming techniques:
Your baby will cry for reasons other than just hunger. The best way to calm them in the 4th trimester is to recreate the womb. Wrap them up tight (swaddle, sling or hold in firm arms), move (rock) them & ssshhh them (white noise/hoover, or simply sssshhhhh close to them). You need to be PATIENT with this, you need to do this for a good 15/20mins (set a timer). This is a really useful technique to help read those early cues.

Trust your instinct:
You WILL have an instinct for all this, you just need to find it and trust it. 

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Do what feels right and BE HONEST:
If you DON’T WANT to breastfeed that is fine, it isn’t for everyone and that is OK. Again we have to move the focus to mum rather than baby.. If YOU DON’T WANT TO DO IT, DON’T AND DON’T FEEL GUILTY ABOUT IT. And don't make those that do feel guilty for their choice, lets stop ripping each other down, and start building each other up! Parenting is hard enough without all this added extra shit on top of it!

We are getting our knickers in such a twist over parenting. Lets put power  back into mums hands, support her and let her do what she feels is right!

 

OMG You did Gina Ford???

OMG You did Gina Ford???

So I actually DID try Gina Ford with my first, 13yrs ago (shock horror, what a bitch)…I have to be honest parenting was a whole heap easier then than it is now! There really wasn’t the judgemental crap around then, and to be fair most of the crap today is spouted by so called “experts”.

There has been an explosion in the “baby business” in the time I have had children, now I fully accept I am part of that! When I first started teaching 10yrs ago there were very few classes, now the market is saturated! 

Birth is SO IMPORTANT

THIS IS NOT A BLOG ON NATURAL BIRTH VS CS....

Birth is so important, sadly many of us  don't realise how important until we have actually done it! 

It is a subject I could talk about all day.!! It is bloody amazing! But it comes in so many different ways, it doesn't matter what way it comes, as long as it is YOUR way, and YOU feel like you had an element of control.

It isn't HOW you give birth, but how you FEEL about that birth...As a society we are managing birth more and more, and with that comes difficulties. In some cases, birth absolutely needs to be managed, and inductions and interventions save millions of mums and babies lives, however WE need to play a part in that process. 

Nothing should happen in your birth or your labour without your consent, the terminology used sometimes can make us think that things are happening that we have no choice over. You need to understand the options and choices, YOU make an informed decision. We talk about the BRAIN acronym in class (Benefits, Risks, Alternatives, Instinct, Nothing). There are benefits and RISKS to EVERYTHING we do, we must understand them all to make an informed decision. 

If we feel that things are happening that we didn't choose, or that we don't understand, we begin to feel out of control. I am not saying we can control labour, we can't, babies tend to do that, but we can control ourselves. We can understand a situation and feel like we are part of the decision making process, therefore feeling an element of control. We can understand adrenaline (next blog), we can understand its impact, how it is designed to make us feel, a primitive and instinctive response to many things, but most importantly how we can control it. It doesn't really matter what is going on around you, if you feel calm and in control within yourself you have a far better chance of having a positive outcome. Birth Trauma is real...

"Birth trauma is in the eye of the beholder"
Cheryl Beck (Nursing Research January/February 2004 Vol 53, No.1)

The Birth Trauma Association states: 
"It is clear that some women experience events during childbirth (as well as in pregnancy or immediately after birth) that would traumatise any normal person.

For other women, it is not always the sensational or dramatic events that trigger childbirth trauma but other factors such as loss of control, loss of dignity, the hostile or difficult attitudes of the people around them, feelings of not being heard or the absence of informed consent to medical procedures."

Giving birth is a huge event in any woman's life, we gear up for the actual birth, sometimes not thinking past how it will be when the baby is here. Those first few hours, days, weeks and months pass in a blur. Breastfeeding is rarely as easy as we think...the chances of developing PND are 50% higher in those mums who wanted to breastfeed and couldn't, birth trauma can have a devastating impact on the early hours and days of breastfeeding.

Newborn babies are hard work, no one tells you how hard, a mix of sleep deprivation, sore nipples (sore everything!), and massive hormone surges makes those early hours and days difficult, without adding birth trauma (or worse PTSD) to the mix. 

Some of us need to take in all the information we can get our hands on, some of us are better with the bare minimum. Choose a course that suits you, but choose it so that you can prepare for YOUR birth.

Birth via CS, next to a lake with a baby deer present, or in hospital taking as many drugs as you want, it doesn't matter, what matters is YOU and your birth partner, and that YOU are part of the choices and decisions made.

The Importance of ME

The Importance of ME

This is something I have been thinking about for a long time, and even though I don’t do New Years resolutions, one of them, if I did, would be to give more time and importance to ME. 

Since having kids nearly 13yrs ago, both my husband and I set up our own businesses, so money has always been in short supply. I readily buy the kids clothes, but the thought of buying something for myself is a total luxury! Our grand plans of making sure we make time for “us” with regular “date nights” has fizzled into a meal once every 5/6 months if we are lucky!