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Sunday, 15 April 2018

Don't judge me.

Your not a mother unless your being judged, right?

I know that's a massive sweeping statement to make but blimey, doesn't it feel like it? Becoming a mum is an incredibly steep learning curve so why do we try and make it harder for ourselves?
Much of this post is going to be really difficult to write because I am going to be writing this as a mum, not as a midwife... The saying "do as I say, not as I do" comes to mind. Apologies to anyone who reads this and doesn't agree with certain parenting choices I have made!

When imagining your life with a baby you know it's going to change forever. You understand how your going to be responsible for a human life, how they rely on you, how your sole purpose is to keep them alive.. however I don't think the actual realisation of how this feels can truly sink in until your bundle of joy is in your arms; when your there in the middle of the night propping your eyeballs open with match sticks, praying to the god you (do or) don't believe in that the baby will finally fall asleep. Or when you realise you haven't washed your hair in 3 days and have skipped several meals because keeping your new offspring alive is far more important than yourself... Or when you answer the door to the postman with your boob half out and don't realise until you shut the door, and then what's worse, not even care.

So why is it that we care so much about what other people think? And even more to the point, why is it people have such great opinions about how you do things and feel it's their duty to share those opinions with you. It all starts in pregnancy really. People aren't shy about putting their hands all over your pregnant bump, asking whether your sure it's not twins as you look massive... Thanks. Thanks for that.. Then it comes to what clothes you dress your baby in, where you buy your nursery furniture and what pram system you go for.

Ok ok, so I am talking about quite trivial things here but the points I want to make go so much further and deeper than that... I'll get to the point eventually!

Now we're nearly 4 months into parenthood I can say that were feeling pretty much into the swing of things. Alot of the time I no longer miss my Pippa free life when my responsibilities were so trivial. Generally Pippa is a very laid back baby and I think we are pretty lucky with her. We have learnt so much about her; her likes, dislikes, what distracts her when shes upset and makes her giggle. She's a pretty happy girl most of the time and we enjoy watching her learn and grow every day. After the initial worry with her weight she is now more than making up for it! She's jumped up a centile on the growth chart and has recently got really long too, all of a sudden her 0-3 month clothes didn't fit and some of the 3-6 month are snug round her belly!! Scott says she's got my side of the families chunky thighs! Bless her they are so chubby and cute!

So for my first moan of the post, a few people recently have said to me "so your still breastfeeding then, you sure you have enough milk for her?"... What? Why assume that I wouldn't? I'm not starving her just because I don't want to give up breastfeeding. Surely that just highlights other people's insecurities around breastfeeding, don't try and make me feel like I'm in the wrong. How did the world survive before formula??? Anyway, I said after my last post all about breastfeeding that I wasn't going to bang on about it in this one!

I have been lucky enough to have an awful lot of help from doting daddy which has been a god send. As he works from home most of the time it's nice to have him there. There are the moments I've particularly struggled to settle her, he seems to have the golden touch there! It's also nice just to be able to pass her over for a minute while I go for a pee. Although she generally is pretty easy, she doesn't like being put down much at all! In the lastbcouple weeks or so she's getting a little more independent as she's showing more interest and interaction with toys such as her play gym. However, before this she would go from being a happy soul to crying just because I've put her down to go for that wee!

So here goes the major controversial rant... Like most babies I am sure, she really doesn't like being put down to sleep overnight. Instead, she prefers to be as close to me as possible, hearing my breathing and heartbeat. So as soon as it goes quiet overnight and I put her in a cold, lonely cot, she wakes and refuses to sleep anywhere but next to me. For the first few weeks we really tried incredibly hard to get her to sleep in her side along cot. Both me and my husband would be up most of the night while I repeatedly fed her, settled her and then put her down, only for her to wake 2mins later. Scott was so worried about me falling asleep sat up in bed feeding her that he would sit up with me doing crosswords to try and keep us awake. That then meant that we were both exhausted during the day too and were slowly getting ourselves into a right state. I knew about bedsharing and the risks around it so really didn't want to give into resorting to it. In the end, it was like 4am and neither of us had slept yet and Scott was frantically reading stuff on his phone; he encouraged me to just try feeding lying on my side with her in bed and then to move her back to her side crib when she's finished. So I did, and the next thing I knew it was 8.30am and we had had more sleep in one than we had since she was born. And guess what, she was perfectly alive and well, sleeping soundly next to me. From then on she's slept next to me and we all get at least 8hrs sleep a night (interrupted for feeds but even still).

Now I want to stress STRAIGHT away that we do this as safely as we possibly can. Scott would never co-sleep with her, I have her in the middle of the bed, far away from the edge, I lie on my side with the duvet well away from her and use her own blankets to keep her warm and have any clothing, blankets or pillows etc away that could suffocate her. She is always supported by the firm mattress, and never sleeps on my chest.

So call social services now yeah?

I hate that parents are made to feel that bed sharing is a complete no no when actually it seems that we know very little about it. I always advised parents that it is not recommended however if it was something they did then I would give advice on how to do it safely. I think this is so important as I have recently seen online conversations between mums highlighting some very unsafe ways of sleeping.

Interestingly, if you read the information given to parents (e.g. the BFI caring for your baby at night leaflet), it is all very carefully worded to state how it isn't recommended but if you read between the lines it is quite clear that the true risk (in the absence of known risk factors such as smoking or prematurity, just to mention a couple) is not really known. If the true risk was known then why give guidance on how to do it safely? Research has definitely shown that falling asleep with your baby in places such as a sofa or armchair is more dangerous but most research doesn't differentiate between sharing a bed and falling asleep with your baby in other known dangerous places. This is certainly the case for which NICE Guidance is based on. To me, it appears that there needs to be better research into the risks of SIDS when bed sharing is practiced as safely as possible. This article published in The Independent makes very good reading..

It frustrates me how information designed for parents can be so counter-intuitive. for example, The Lullaby Trust state how they want parents to continue breastfeeding in the safest way possible, and that if parents are concerned about falling asleep whilst breastfeeding lying down, then they should find more upright places to feed where they might not fall asleep.... now where else are mothers to go? A sofa or armchair. Great one! I know from my personal experience of trying to feed both sat up and lying down, I feel a darn sight safer known my baby is well supported lying down if I do fall asleep opposed to being in my arms and at risk of me nodding off and dropping her. When your that tired, you will fall asleep anywhere!

The La Leche League have a very interesting article which starts with the statement:

"A baby is born expecting to stay in close contact with his mother night and day, in order to stay safe, warm and well fed."
So why is it we expect babies to sleep on their own in a cot away from their mothers? Research has shown that babies are poorly neurologically developed at birth so need close physical contact to feel safe. Breastfed babies are also statistically less likely to die of SIDS. so... just to make it as clear as mud...

Bed sharing increases the risk of cot death.
Breastfeeding reduces the risk of cot death.
Bed sharing increases the length that mother breastfeed for.

What is the right thing to do?

The next one I always hear is that 'you want to knock that one on its head' like I am teaching my baby had habits, well if that's the case then I'll deal with it when the time comes and I'll say you told me so. But until then, I have a happy baby and I am a happy mum with a family that sleeps well. And were all still alive. I can't even be arsed to write more about this one... But I will say, you could say this about anything. I was talking to a mum recently who also struggled to get her breastfed baby to have a teat, went to her health visitor for advice and was told "that's what she got for exclusively breastfeeding".
Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

1 comment:

  1. With all 3 of my boys they slept on me; being sicky I had to hold them upright for atleast 30 mins after a feed or else they would be throwing up and crying all night long. Personally sleeping in bed would mean they could roll off me so I slept on the sofa wedged into the corner and propped up it was nerve wrecking but it was hell of alot better than not doing it. Just got to do what's right whether its tabooed or not. I know the risk and take every precaution I can. You are so right;damned if You do damned if you dont. I guess that's what parenting is all about. Xxxx

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