How I Parent

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Routine, Uncategorized

I’ve been getting messages on Instagram recently from mums who want to know how I do things. How I manage, how I cope, how I parent.

First of all, I love that we all parent in different ways and I love that the choices we make form each of our little individuals and their unique personalities. Coming up in the next few weeks will be a blog I have written about choice and how many choices mother’s are expected to make, and I guess this one is a post about the choices that I have made in parenthood.

Secondly, I find it laughable that people perceive me as someone who copes and manages well. I’m a constant collective of organised and calm, and a complete anxious mess. I guess it depends what day/week you catch me on and which of my many moods I may be in. Despite that, I’m always happy to share what has worked for me.

Like a complete hippy, I wanted everything with Ted to be as natural as possible and nothing to be forced. I guess I’ve suceeded in some areas of that and failed in others. I wish I’d done things like breastfeed for longer, weaned more slowly and used cloth nappies. But that’s what round 2 will be for, right?!

I chose not to use dummies. As a newborn Ted used his nursing for comfort largely and although there were times (normally whilst I was awake at 4am wondering why I’d spent more time awake that night than asleep) that I didn’t know how I’d cope, Rob and I realised that there weren’t any points when we actually needed it. Ted eventually in his own time has learned to self soothe. Teething has never been a massive problem for us other than his sleep stealing, and whenever he is upset I go through the mental checklist in my head of what may be upsetting him until we find an answer.

Working in education, I’m driven to making sure I teach and educate Ted the best I can. We read to him often and limit his TV time as much as possible. Part of educating him for me too has always been by surrounding him with positive people and experiences. Taking him to the farm, drawing, letting him help me with mundane tasks, visiting family often, attempting to play sport together, visits to parks, letting him run around and be a free spirit. He is turning into such a sweet little soul, and I put so much of that down to making sure we leave the house every single day, come rain and shine

I chose to breastfeed until Ted was 13 months. The choice to stop then was more his choice than mine. He’d had enough and would push away and I knew it was time to stop. I’m so proud of our journey with feeding and that my choice made him the super strong little lad he is now.

Our sleep journey with Ted has been a challenging one and we have slowly and gently weaned him off of being fed to sleep, rocked to sleep and now left to fall asleep himself. I’m glad we have let him find his own way with sleep and that we have finally got to a good place with it. Maybe our decision to feed and rock him to sleep made the sleep situation worse, but for us it was the best choice based on what our boy needed at the time.

I chose to go back to work full time, and consequently chose to put Ted into a nursery full time. I needed work to stay sane as spending that amount of time at home wasn’t good for me, and luckily nursery has been a breeze for Ted. It’s made him a confident, independent child and bought out nothing but the best in him. I think we were lucky that we just found the right place and that he slipped into his new routine with minimal problems.

Being the ultra-feminist I am, everything is evenly split between me and Rob and I am so grateful for that. Particularly since being back at work, I’m so grateful for all that he does to keep me sane, keep us fed and help keep the household running smoothly. I honestly don’t know how some women do it, so massive shout out to them!

I’m the mum who likes to cuddle often, but I’m firm when Ted pushes the boundaries. I want to raise Ted understanding that he must work hard in order to get what he wants. I guess my values in life are reflected in my parenting style- kindness, persistence and education.

The more I think about it, the more I realise that how I parent is how my parent’s parent, and I’m lucky to have those role models in place. How they grandparent is funnily enough also how my grandparent’s grandparent- constantly trying to feed me, showering me with affection and adoration and allowing cheekiness that parent’s don’t!

It’s important that we share what works for us, as it may help others make decisions about how they do things. How do you parent?

Breastfeeding Myths Debunked

Breastfeeding, Mum

I am so so passionate about breastfeeding. I honestly believe it is one of the most beautiful things in the world, and how incredible is it that our bodies produce a substance so perfect for our babies? There is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding breastfeeding and I love talking to people about it and ‘debunking’ myths that some have about breastfeeding. I’ve picked out some common things I’ve heard over the last year to try and raise a better understanding. I’m no medical expert, but I am a mum who has done her research, is enthusiastic and would love to support other women in their breastfeeding journeys!

“Expressing milk will show how much you have.”

This varies so much depending on the individual. I was really lucky and from the moment Ted was born I could pump about 5 ounces in 5 minutes. Other women aren’t as lucky though, and can only get 1 in 10 minutes at times! This is no reflection of how much milk you are actually producing. Remember that pumping milk is not a natural process. It stimulates the nipple, but it is the saliva in a babies mouth that encourages the production of milk.

“My baby feeds too much- I’m not producing enough milk.”

All I really need to say here is CLUSTER FEEDING. Oh my god… No one warned me about CF before my son was born and if I hadn’t have researched it I would have thought the exact same thing. I had a very very hungry baby. He’d want milk 10 minutes after his last feed and every night would feed for hours and hours before bed.

“My boobs are soft and not full anymore so I think my milk has dried up.”

You probably don’t like the look of them now they’ve gone soft, but honestly, this is a good thing. It means your supply has settled and your producing just the right amount. That full feeling might come back from time to time and they won’t stay like that after feeding. I finished feeding 3 weeks ago and my ‘fullness’ in terms of fat (rather than milk) has returned!

“He didn’t feed for very long.”

This one is polar opposite to what most people are probably used to. I had a woman in a feeding room make this comment to me. She was also feeding her baby and I thought it was a very strange thing to comment on. Sometimes babies want a meal and sometimes they just want a little sip to drink. Sometimes they want 3 entire courses plus drinks! Once feeding is established the length of feeds can vary, especially dependant on weather and times of day.

“Breastfed babies are clingy and don’t get to bond with their dads.”

Oh man, I hate this one! A big thing i hate about it is it implies the only way you can bond with your baby is by feeding them! Dads can cuddle too. They can change nappies and get baby’s first giggle out. My son and partner have the strongest of bonds and breastfeeding doesn’t take that away from a father.

“Many mothers aren’t capable of breastfeeding.”

This is partly correct in that it is right, some mothers just aren’t physically capable of breastfeeding. Some mothers are also on medication that is crucial to their physical or mental wellbeing and it means that they cannot breastfeed either. But this really isn’t as many as are made out, and unfortunately most the time it is down to a lack of support received.

“You can’t drink alcohol while you breastfeed.”

I’ve had to explain this one more that any of the others! I love the odd glass of wine or cocktail here and there, and it bothers me that I can sometimes be judged for drinking and then feeding. The truth is that alcohol has such a minimal effect on your milk supply.

“Breastfed babies don’t sleep.”

Okay, so my baby is not a great example of this… but there’s this toxic rumour that breastfed babies don’t sleep and it’s not true! Formula fed babies often sleep better as formula is harder to digest and therefore they stay fuller for longer. Even so, it is completely down to luck and depends on what age your baby learns to self soothe.

“I don’t think I would have been able to breastfeed because my milk didn’t come in until over a week.”

The more baby is on the breast, the quicker the milk comes! My milk took 5 or 6 days to come in. Before milk, babies feed on colostrum which is also known as liquid gold. This is all baby will need in that duration as their tummies are only the size of a 50 pence coin!

“Breastfeeding hurts.”

To begin with breastfeeding can hurt if the latch is all wrong. Also, your nipples can sometimes hurt to start off with as they adapt to their new purpose. It’s nothing a bit of nipple cream won’t fix!

“You’ll have to get him on a bottle before he has teeth.”

What’s so scary about teeth and breastfeeding? Ted bites me once every time a new tooth comes through. But it isn’t a hard bite, it’s just he is learning to get comfortable and get a new latch now his mouth is different! If baby bites, firmly tell them no and try not to react.

“Formula and breastmilk are exactly the same.”

Whichever way you choose to feed, science is amazing. We are lucky that formula is there to replicate some of the goodness of breastmilk, but unfortunately formula only contains a fifth of the goodness of breastmilk. Breastmilk serves as medicine as well as nutrition, and contains hormones that cannot be replicated that boost brain development, fight infections and viruses and protect against long term disease into adulthood. And that is amongst many other things!

“Premature babies can’t be breastfed.”

This one makes me especially sad because of course they can!!! Colostrum and milk can be expressed for tube fed babies and although that latch may be a bit harder to establish, with the support of midwives and perseverance you and baby can get there. Breastmilk will adapt to a premature birth and become extra fatty for weight gain and produce extra proteins specifically for brain development.

Teddy’s Weaning Journey

baby, Breastfeeding, Mum, Weaning, Weaning

Written by Julie Suffield

It’s now been a solid three months since Teddy last had breastmilk. 27 months after that first latch on the floor of our front room and he just quietly, gradually stopped. No tears. No tantrums. Just no more requests for Mamma milk.

It was a much smoother ride second time round. No tongue tie, no mastitis and only the odd milk bleb. He put on weight quickly, only losing 3% of his birthweight. He was a dream to feed, the type of baby you see on maternity ward posters. Quite the surprise after all our difficulties with Bea.

He doesn’t seem to miss it. I was worried we wouldn’t be as close physically but he’s just as cuddly and loving. He still loves to sleep curled up to me the same as before. He did do the same as Bea and fell ill to every bug in the first few weeks after stopping feeding and no longer receiving my immunity. But overall he’s coped amazingly. He did request to latch on a few weeks ago, but couldn’t remember how.

Breastfeeding has been a huge part of my life for four years. Teddy is at a tricky age for tantrums, and there have been a few times that I’ve wished he still fed just to calm him down. But I’m pleased that it was on his terms and has happened at a time that suits us both. For a while it felt like a huge part of my identity had been lost. But it’s something I’ll always be passionate about and advocate for. I am sad that this chapter of motherhood is over with Teddy but also excited for the next stage.