Letter to new mums

new-mummyDear new mummy,

First let me start by saying congratulations! You have a baby! How does it feel being someone’s mummy? What a massive change. You are now on life’s longest and most important apprentice and so far, you are doing a wonderful job. You have brought a life into the world!! You are bloody superwomen and don’t forget that. If you have had a baby, there is nothing you can’t do!!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any words of wisdom, tips or advice, but you may be sick of all that already right?

This is just to say that some days you will cry and you know what, that’s ok!! This is the WORLDS HARDEST job and at times when your baby is crying, or unsettled, or you are exhausted, or your boobs hurt. Or you resent the freedom your partner has being able to leave the house without having someone permanently attached to them, or just because your hormones are all over the place, you will cry. Don’t you beat yourself up about that!

You cry, eat cake and know you may feel like you are getting it wrong, but your tears show you are getting it absolutely right! You care so much that you want to be doing the best job you can, and do you know what, you are.

There will be highs and lows, probably within each hour.

Things change all the time and when they do it is nothing you have done ‘wrong’, babies know their own minds early on. If they decide they don’t like sleep that day, there is probably little you can do to change it. If they want to spend the day eating, they will eat. It has nothing to do with your ability as a parent.

It is easy to compare ourselves, or our babies to others. The truth is no one has all the answers. In fact, no one really has any answers. We all learn on the job, and it’s trial and error.

For anyone struggling, or sleep deprived, or generally feeling guilt or worried about your ability as a parent, I set you this challenge…

Name one thing that you are proud of today? Anything; it could be getting dressed, making it to that group, popping to the shop for milk, making a new mum friend, conquering the world (aka getting your baby to nap). Then hold on to that, and keep reminding yourself that you are doing a wonderful job!

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your what you are proud of today so please comment or tell me via Facebook.

Mothering through instinct

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Is this a scary thought to you? Or a common sense approach?

When I first had my first child I wasn’t sure if I could 100% trust my instinct. What did I know about babies, feeding, weight gain, how to do things for them? I had ideas and an underlying feeling that what I was doing felt natural to me, but I constantly doubted myself. I was surrounded by professionals whose business it was to know about babies; Midwives, Doctors, Health Visitors. And everyone else seemed to know so much more about my baby then I did; friends, relatives and even strangers. In fact, with my first I was constantly offered advice from people I didn’t know; one of whom confidently informed me that my daughter was screaming because she was hungry. My first thought was ‘my goodness, what kind of mother am I? How could I not spot my own daughter was hungry when this stranger knew?’ Now of course I would question what gave her the right to think she knew my child better then me, but back then I wasn’t confident in my ability to parent, after all I’d never done it before.

Being a new parent for me was the biggest learning curve in my life. Nothing, and I mean nothing; no reading, no watching other peoples babies, no advice, could have prepared me for how it would FEEL as a new parent.

Those people who know me will be the first to tell you this doesn’t sound like me, I know my own mind and am not afraid to say my opinion, but when it came to being a parent I had no real opinion to say as I had no idea what I should be doing.

I did do certain things I instinctively felt, for example, I let my daughter sleep on my chest for the first 8 weeks of her life. It just felt right, but it was also because I had no idea how to get her to sleep otherwise. Yet, despite it feeling right, every day I worried that I was making a mistake, making a rod for own back and at worst putting her life at risk with this decision. I fed her when she was hungry but would also be full of self-doubt, was she actually hungry? Was I just using my breast to pacify her, was that wrong? Am I spoiling my baby.

My husband would also come home with stories from colleagues…”James let their baby share their bed and now they can’t get him out of it and he is 5!”. One colleague informed him that if we keeping picking our daughter up every time she cries and carrying her in the sling, we are going to spoil her and she will never be able to settle herself.

Words kept jumping out at me…don’t spoil her, she must learn to self sooth, you can’t always pick her up, she must learn to be independent, its important that’s she is left with other people otherwise she’ll be too reliant on you.

Now don’t get me wrong, some advice I received was very helpful and appreciated. However, much of the information I got was so conflicting. How can it be true that you can’t overfeed a breastfed baby but feeding on demand is making them use you like a dummy? How can it be true that you just need to sleep however you can, but having baby in bed is dangerous? How can it be true that you can spoil a baby when I am also being told that leaving a baby to cry will teach it that no one will come? And how can it be true that if there is just one right answer on how to bring up babies we don’t all know it and do it?

The conclusion I came to is that it CAN’T BE. There is no one way. Like life, relationships, friendships, there are 100 different ways to do things and to get on. You HAVE to trust your instinct and give yourself time to listen to yourself. To push aside the doubt and do what FEELS right. Respond to your baby how you see fit. Of course, you won’t always know. You will try things that don’t work for you, but that’s ok.

Trusting your instinct isn’t about getting it right first time. It’s about going with our inbuilt ability to know what is the best for our young. I am yet to watch a Planet Earth  documentary in which a rhino is reading Gina Ford, or an elephant is looking up attachment parenting. They parent through their natural ability to instinctively know what’s right for their child. And we have that too!! We need to stop advising mothers and encourage them to know all they need to know is already within them. Of course give information, give the facts and the options but don’t tell them what their baby is feeling, thinking or needing. Don’t tell them they need to be concerned about things that they are not worried about. Don’t make them doubt every decision they make. Let’s build up mothers and start stripping back and listening to our bodies. After all we grew the baby in our body through no help of parenting experts or different techniques. It was nature, and that is how we should approach our role as parents.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi🙂

3 Little Buttons

Parenting sin list

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Having been to more baby groups then I can remember, I have heard some real clangers that parents say to one another. I expect we are all guilty of being a little insensitive or saying the wrong thing at times, but here is a list of the things that no mum wants to hear.

·         “My baby never cries” – why are you lying?

·         “I always know what my baby wants when she cries. I honestly have never not known why, I’m lucky I guess” – A truly unhelpful and ridiculous statement

·         “My baby slept through from 6 weeks and has done so ever since” – When the mum next to you has match sticks holding up her eye lids please don’t feel now is the time to gloat share your experience. Tell your family, your child free friends or those who have forgotten the horror of night waking.

·         “I have got such a good baby” – we all have ‘good’ babies ok, all babies are good. If they cry, have colic, don’t sleep, feed often, behave like babies, they are ALL GOOD.

·         “I’m lucky my husband does everything in the night” – Hahaha, this is a joke one, I haven’t heard anyone say that. (I know this is not fair to expect if mum is breastfeeding, as not a lot dad can do, but we can dream)

·         “I just found breastfeeding so easy, I’m not sure what the fuss is about” – Not so helpful for those who spent weeks crying because it hurt, struggling with latch, worrying about weight gain or just generally finding it hard to get to grips with.

·         “Teething was never an issue for us, he just woke up one morning with 2 teeth” –  For the other 90% of us, who have endured sleepless nights, the fractious days, the months of fussing before any teeth even appear; we really don’t want to hear this.

·         “I really don’t know why people bother breastfeeding” – unhelpful for all the above.

·         “Is your baby …. (Insert latest developmental milestone – rolling, sitting, crawling, walking)” – I expect we are all guilty of this, but let’s be honest, mostly this question is asked when your baby is doing one of the above and you want to tell your friends without sounding like you are showing off. This can’t be helped as we are just proud when our babies are doing something, but when your baby has reached that milestone 3 months early, it just makes everyone else worry about why their little Einstein isn’t keeping up. Or, if you know full well that the mother you are asking has just been worried because her baby isn’t doing something yet, then you are just making her feel worse.

·         Smugness – I can’t think of one set example of this but just generally smug mums. As my friend beautifully put it “nothing to do with your parenting, my second baby showed me that, its luck of the draw”.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page  I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi🙂

Today I didn’t enjoy being a mum

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That sounds awful doesn’t it! But it’s true.

The moment I opened my eyes my daughter was asking the same thing she asks every day and suddenly it felt like Groundhog Day. I immediately felt irritated that every single morning we have the same moany requests.

The morning was filled with meltdowns and tantrums about the slightest thing (the children, not me, although I would have liked to join in). We had a playdate with my friend but the children decided to take it in turns in clinging on to me and crying or fussing about everything. They want the “blue plate”, or “2 yogurts”, or lunch 10 minutes ago, or no lunch. Nothing I was doing was right. Not helped by the fact that I don’t feel 100% myself after a few days of having the flu. I couldn’t talk to my friend at all, and could tell you nothing about what she has been doing in the last few weeks because I couldn’t think straight with all the crying and moaning.

Cleaning the floor for the sixth time in 4 hours; I felt trapped in my own life. Is this it? What am I doing? Why did I think staying home with my children is a good idea? There seems no escape and I’m not sure I even like doing it. If I was offered an ‘exit card’, would I take it? Right in that moment maybe I would have.

I envied those at work and wondered if working outside of the house (more than the few hours I run baby massage sessions) was the way forward. The ticket to time away and time to breathe without being clung on to, cried at, moaned at, demanded to.

What could I do? Scream maybe? Shout perhaps? I chose cry. I say chose, that’s not really true, crying chose me and I had no choice. I sat and sobbed. My children were stunned. My nearly 3-year-old climbed onto my lap and said “why are you sad mummy?”. I explained that I had had enough and she just sat and hugged me. She hugged me like a comforting adult, and then dried my tears with a wet wipe.

My daughter comforted me, whilst my baby son tried playing peekaboo. Right then I remembered! That was it, that was why I love being a mum. In that moment, the love she was able to show me reminded me why I do it and why I love it. However, upset, infuriated, cross or overwhelmed I feel we have an unconditional love, we are a family and we look after each other. Those we love are the ones that can push us to the edge, yet they are also the ones that can pull us back as quickly.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi🙂

This Mum's Life
3 Little Buttons

Why I will not apologise for my baby

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You all know the scene. In a busy public place, full of adults and your baby picks that moment to have the mother of all meltdowns. No amount of soothing or distraction can help. Your baby is crying. You don’t know why and nothing you have tried is working. Your first instinct, after seeing to your little one, is to look around and apologise. Well don’t! You certainly don’t have to.

Sometimes babies cry! Sometimes they get hungry at inopportune times and cry, sometimes they have a nappy explosion when you have just boarded a busy train, and then cry. Sometimes on a plane their ears get sore and they scream for the duration of the flight. Sometimes they are having a bad day, sometimes they are teething, sometimes they are tired. They cry. That is what babies do. That is how they communicate.

We wouldn’t dream of apologising if we were in a busy place and we laugh a little too loudly, or have a noisy conversation with a group of excited friends. We don’t worry when adults get a little tipsy and voices raise slightly in an intimate restaurant. Or if on a busy train someone is talking on their mobile phone or rustling a crisp packet. We may be mildly perturbed but we would not expect them to apologise to the whole carriage, or dish out sweets to their fellow air passengers if it were a plane. We would not look around sheepishly and apologise for something we literally have no control over, so why apologise for your baby?

Guess what, babies cry. Don’t let anyone make you feel like you need to say sorry for that, because you don’t!

I am saddened to see so many mums feel they need to do this, and I did too as a new parent. Even in settings full of children. We imagine people looking over means they are judging. It doesn’t. It is natural when people hear a noise they look to see the source. Some people are just interested, some were in this position last week, last year, 20 years ago. Some are probably feeling sorry for you; some are wondering if they can help. We don’t know what they are thinking.

Babies cry and that is the only way they can voice what they need to say. It is the most natural and normal thing in the world, all parents have been there. Please don’t feel you have to apologise.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi 🙂

Pink Pear Bear

 

3 Little Buttons

 

Baby 2 – Reality verses imagined

20160918_214831When I fell pregnant with my second child, I wavered between excitement and fear. I now knew how wonderful life can be with a baby. Yet at moments I questioned my sanity! What on earth were we thinking planning number 2 just 10 months after our first? This pendulum of emotions took me though my pregnancy. Thankfully the birth of my son was a positive experience and instead of my love being divided, as I’d feared, it doubled!

The early days alone with them both were daunting and a matter of trial and error. I learnt quickly that my imagined view on something was often very different to the reality….

Imagined… I will take my son in the sling whilst pushing my daughter in her pushchair to the park. An idyllic day and postcard for juggling 2.

Reality… My daughter screamed as she didn’t want to be in the pushchair, she wanted to walk and be carried (simultaneously). Which meant holding her, pushing an empty pushchair and sweating whilst my son was strapped to me. Or putting her down, bending over with the sling which nearly sent my son toppling out.

Imagined…. Taking both children to multi roomed playgroup. A great way for both to have fun experiences and age appropriate toys and stimulation.

Reality… it turns out being in 2 places at once is pretty difficult. And when my daughter was brought back to me (by another mum that I didn’t know), soaking wet because she fell in the water play whilst I was feeding my son, it makes you feel pretty useless.

Imagined…my daughter would coo over her brother and gently kiss and cuddle him

Reality… my daughter adores her brother, so much so that laying her full body weight over his, and often his head, became her way of showing him. Me screaming things that I never thought I’d say ‘no, don’t sit on his head’ or our favourite ‘That doesn’t go in his ear!’

Yet on the other hand the reality was better than the imagined. Having 2 is obviously exhausting, but also lovely. Most surprisingly I found the jump from 1 to 2 was an easier transition then becoming first time parent.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi 🙂

* *I originally wrote this post when I was a guest blogger on fabulous Snot on my Jumper – https://snotonmyjumper.wordpress.com/

 

3 Little Buttons

 

Letter to breastfeeding mums

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Whenever first time, breastfeeding mums come to my massage classes, many have experienced the same things I did when I had my first baby. They worry that everything they are doing is wrong, they worry about how much milk their baby is getting, if their baby’s behaviour around feeding is normal. They worry if their baby is on the breast too often or not enough, if they want to feed all night or sleep too long. They worry about everything because that’s what we do as new mums. We care so much about this miracle WE created; we want to do everything we can to protect and look after them.

I wrote this because I don’t want new mums to feel like they are alone, you are NOT alone. This is to all the new mums who are starting out on their breastfeeding experience. It is HARD WORK at first, but it is sooo worth it! This is in no way a critique of mums who have chosen formula. In fact, if I knew enough about it I would write something for those mummies too. I hear time and again how bad they have been made to feel, or how they were just left alone to ‘get on with it’ without having any idea about formula and how to feed their little ones. However, this is for those breastfeeding mums because I have been there, and I have experienced many of the same worries and anxieties you may be going through. I am not a breastfeeding expert, but a mum who has breastfed 2 babies (and is still feeding my 1-year-old)

Here are my main things I want to share and things I wish someone had told me:

         Breastfeeding is painful at the beginning for many of us. It just is. It’s not because the latch is wrong, or anything you are doing. It just hurts to have someone suck on your nipple as if their life depended on it (which I guess it does). Of course you ought to check it out and make sure there are no issues like tongue tie or milk supply issues, but its normal to struggle. Please don’t feel upset or disappointed and, if you can, push through. It WILL get easier, just give it time. Don’t beat yourself up, don’t panic that this is how it will be for months, it won’t, but you need to have someone by your side telling you how well you are doing. Because you are doing well, so keep it up. Join La Leche league, call the breastfeeding NCT number, see your Health Visitor, find a lactation consultant, check out FB pages about breastfeeding. Get support and the correct information.

          You may not need to top up. Well-meaning friends and relatives will tell you to top up on formula if you are worried, or tired in those early days. This can be very unhelpful as topping up on formula will tell your body that you don’t need to produce as much milk. Breastfeeding is supply and demand. It takes a few days for your milk to come in but the more baby is on the breast the more it will stimulate this. if you are concerned do check with a health professional who will be able to help you do what is best for you and baby.

          When your baby is very little (or maybe not so little) they will want to feed all the time. This is normal. They are establishing feeding and they are getting comfort too. Breastfeeding is so much more then feeding. Try not to worry about ‘how much’ they are getting. Babies get what they need and if you are worried their weight is a good indication of how they are doing.

          Don’t let people tell you that your baby is using you like a dummy. So what? That is exactly what the breast is for, to feed and comfort. It is natures ‘dummy’ and therefore normal and natural for your baby to want this.

          Finding clothes isn’t as tricky as you might think. When I had my first child I wore the same 3 feeding tops on rotation. It turns out I could have worn any top I wanted. You just do the 2 top trick, pull the top one up and the bottom one down. No one told me about this until much later, but it’s worth remembering if you don’t want to buy all new clothes . Just using 2 of your existing tops in tandem works a treat.

Breastfeeding is a wonderful way to connect with your baby and to remember what a fabulous job you are doing. You are literally keeping your baby alive with your body! How amazing is that. Don’t be ashamed or embarrassed. I used to worry so much about feeing in public. But what should we? I wouldn’t feel ashamed if I was giving a child solid food in public. Your baby is eating. End of, don’t let others make you feel embarrassed about that.

*If you enjoyed reading this please do share it with your friends, and check out my Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/rootsandwingsparenting/ I would love to hear your thoughts and experiences so pop by and say hi 🙂

 

3 Little Buttons

 

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