Tuesday, 2 August 2016

World Breastfeeding Week

It's World Breastfeeding Week!
That's a lot of lives!

I am loving all the positivity around breastfeeding, and just wanted to point you guys towards my posts on all things Breastfeeding:

Why I chose to breastfeed
Useful purchases for Breastfeeding Mums
Ten tips for breastfeeding
Breastfeeding in public
Extended Breastfeeding
Expressing Milk
Breastfeeding and returning to work
Introducing a bottle
Bottle refusal
Breast pump review
Jamie Oliver on Breastfeeding
Attachment Parenting
Tongue Tie
Issues around weight gain
Cow's Milk Protein Allergy

hmmm...it seems I have quite a bit to say on the subject
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Monday, 1 August 2016

Co-sleeping or No Sleeping!

I never intended to co-sleep.

But..if I could start again I would co-sleep, probably from day one.

Many a fretful hour was spent tearfully trying to persuade Lydia to sleep in the Moses basket, or trying to slip her in without her noticing and good grief! what a waste! what a waste of my time, energy, emotions. Why did I bother?

I guess because I had it drummed into me that you MUST NOT co-sleep. Ever. Under any circumstances. Seriously, the way it was advised you would think that co-sleeping was akin to giving your child cocaine.

So. Lydia cried. I cried. She didn't sleep. I didn't sleep. I felt like I was failing. Then we co-slept, she slept and I slept. Yet, I still felt like I was doing something wrong...but why?


  • Co-sleeping is the norm in many parts of the world
  • Co-sleeping was the norm throughout most of history
  • Co-sleeping is the biological norm
There is absolutely nothing abnormal about sharing your bed, or sleeping next to your baby. 

However, the judgement you get when you say that you co-sleep...woah! It is rare that anyone will give outright criticism (we are British after all!) but little coded snips, and a shift in atmosphere are enough to let you know 'we do not approve'

I avoid talking about co-sleeping with the health visitor, I don't lie or say we don't, I just make statements like "He has a crib by our bed" which, to be fair, he did.

and I'm not the only one who feels this way:

" because of the taboo surrounding co-sleeping we were reluctant to tell anyone and the the people we did tell? Well we were met with a frosty reception." Living with Layla Rose

I read that on a blog that I follow(http://livingwithlaylarose.blogspot.co.uk/) a few months ago and it resonated so strongly with me!

My Jacob was a fabulous sleeper from about 8 weeks he slept through the night then the classic 4 month sleep regression kicked in and he started night waking. Between that, a husband who's never in, a toddler who hated bedtime, and no real help, I was shattered. So I put him in our bed. He still woke up, but I could sleep through feeds.

Co-sleeping gets a bad rap for increasing the risk of SIDS , but when you begin to actually look at the data it is...mixed at best. Several studies indicate no increased risk, others only show an increased risk for bed-sharing babies whose parents smoke (which maybe has more to do with the smoke than the bed?) and others hypothesizing that breastfed bed sharing babies are safest from an evolutionary perspective.

So, it's not as black and white as some Health Professionals might have you believe. UNICEF's site is great for a more balanced view.

As for my baby, I think he still wakes most nights (9 months old), but I don't know at what time, or how long for. I know I feed him, I assume he goes back to sleep, he is safe and cosy and close to his mum.

He naps very happily in his own room in a cot during the day, and will stay there until about 11pm at night. After that he wants Mummy. I know that eventually he'll want his own space but I'm not rushing that or desperate for it to happen soon.

Right now I'm just enjoying my baby.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Attachment parenting

Earlier this week I wrote a reflection on my parenting style, and although I couldn't fully identify with one particular approach, I mentioned that I do find that  "Attachment Parenting" is pretty close to my style.

"Attachment parenting" is, I would argue, the "natural" way of parenting, by which I mean the way that women would have intuitively looked after their babies in more basic society. It is parenting out of attachment theory. Dr Sears is credited with writing on it, and setting down some principles, but it is certainlky not a modern parenting system or program. I like to think of it more as a common sense approach.

The basic principles of Attachment Parenting are-

  1. Bonding from Birth
  2. Feeding with love
  3. Respond with sensitivity
  4. Use nurturing touch
  5. Safe Sleep
  6. Consistent, loving care
  7. Positive behaviour management

So, Bonding from birth, and in fact, before birth is about connecting positively with your baby. Having a positive birth experience is desired and most will aim for a natural birth as the hormones produced in mother and baby make bonding easier.

Feeding with love, ideally breastfeeding, as all the hormones again help with attachment, but regardless of how you feed the overarching principle should be love, and also respect. This will involve baby setting the pace of the feed and deciding when they are done and feeding on demand rather than scheduling feeds. Extended breastfeeding is regularly practiced.

Responding with sensitivity means no controlled crying or self-soothing, and being sensitive to what your baby/ child might need. Behaviour is a form of communication and it's important to understand what baby/child is trying to communicate.

Nuturing touch means keeping babies close, babywearing as much as possible, and giving lots of cuddles! Nice :)

Safe sleep is both physical and emotional. Co-sleeping, as in bed sharing, is considered normal, actually maybe preferable in attachment parenting. Sleep training is a no-no.

Consistent loving care is simply about being there for your child as much as you possibly can, and if you need to leave them with someone else to be selective about who that person is.

Positive behaviour management means no physical discipline, and ideally no time out! Focussing on creating an environment in which children can learn positive behaviour, and understanding what is an age appropriate expectation of your child.

Balance means that Mumma needs a break too! I find it so hard to me loving, responsive and positive when I am burnt out and I guess that's why this is a principle. Basically this principle recognises that some time out or self care is an important part of family life too! And also it sets out that Attachment Parenting Principles are intended to be a guide, and if you cant meet the ideal for each then to strive for balance. For example, if you can't (for whatever reason) breastfeed, then bottle feed with love. If you have to go to work, choose an appropriate childminder or nanny who your child can bond with. and so forth.

For me, both my births were good, and I spent time learning about pregnancy, labour and birth. I decided after my experience in hospital that a home birth would be better for me, and I had an incredible experience birthing Jacob at home. I used delayed cord clamping, and skin to skin to encourage bonding.

I have breastfed both my children, and will continue to do so. Although Jacob is only 9 months old, already I feel like this has been labelled as "Extended" breastfeeding. I'm hoping to continue for a long while yet.

I don't do cry it out..

I babywear a fair amount...

I even do baby massage! and the toddler gets a nightly foot rub!

We co-sleep. And don't sleep-train.

I very rarely leave my babies with anyone...

and I try so, so, so hard to manage their behaviour positively...

but to be honest, I am pretty burnt out. Currently there is very little balance in my life. There are so many things I want to be better at, but at the moment am just feeling very drained! So, that's my aim; to try and get some balance...I'll let you know!

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Monday, 25 July 2016

My parenting style

I've wanted to write a post about "my parenting style" for a little while now, but I've struggled each time I've come to do so. It's hard to describe what my "style" is. I don't follow one particular structure or program. This post is almost just a set of bullet points

I'm kind of an inbetweenie, I like balance.

I like routine, but not too much.
Structure, but not too much.
Love...and I don't believe there can be too much. That's an area I don't think you can overindulge your children. I've heard "spoiled" "clingy" but I don't see it.

I loathe with a passion anyone who tells you they have a 'routine' or 'programme' or 'training' for babies, toddlers, children. NO. Just No. Gina Ford, I'm looking at you.

Attachment parenting, gentle parenting, go some way to explain my approach. I am led by my babies, as they are the number one experts in being them. Parenting Expert Dr so-and-so, world renowned behavioural psychologist so-and-so might have some little gems that help out, but ultimately Lydia and Jacob know themselves more!.

I've heard this term from the US; "a crunchy mom" I'm not sure where the term originates from, but have a little understanding of what it means and yeah, I'd say I'm a bit "Crunchy" by some standards:
Natural birth, breastfeeding, babyweaing, co-sleeping, cloth nappying... I sort of fit the bill.

In other ways not so much, I vaccinated both my children as normal, I don't own chickens (yet!) or grow my own veg (yet!) and I didn't eat my placenta...though...confession: I kind of see the point! eek!

I like to be outdoors, and to take the children outdoors. In all weathers. I prefer long-lasting open-ended toys, wood instead of plastic. Yet, we have mega blocks, duplo, a couple of things with batteries. Lydia watches some TV, and can work a tablet better than I can!

I'm also a realist...I am not perfect. I lose my temper. Occasionally I yell, or slam doors or "for goodness sake!"my poor babies :(

I pick my battles, I try and understand behavior.

I cut them some slack

I do occasionally give time out, but I find it hard...I know it is not the most loving approach, but I only have so many hands!

Like most mums, I try my best. Like most mums, I want to do better.

My number one question in making a parenting decision is "In 30 years time, will I regret this?"

Sometimes, it's really easy to get caught up on what is an immediate inconvenience and forget the big picture, and forget that one day, before I know it, my children will be grown ups.

Some days I long to just be able to put the baby down, send the toddler off somewhere, sit down, have a cup of tea! quietly. Alone.
I long to put my children to bed at night.
I long to go out without planning or taking a changing back.
I long to brush my teeth without children hanging off me.
I long to do a load of laundry without having to let someone else "help" without the baby crawling over the piles of just folded clothes...scattering them...everywhere....cuddling my socks...getting in my way!

But one day, all that will happen and I'll long to hold my babies one last time, smell their baby smell, nurse them to sleep, have them need me...

So I cuddle my babies, I feed them to sleep, I snuggle...in 30 years time I wont think "I wish I didn't hold my baby as much..." but I might think "I wish I held them more"

Everything is a phase, not forever

The days are long but the years are short.
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Thursday, 21 July 2016

Jamie Oliver on Breastfeeding

This happened a while ago now, and in light of the whole Brexit furore the "How dare he!?" sentiment towards Jamie Oliver has settled right down. Everyone appears to have moved on.

It is incredibly difficult to find out what was actually said. Even after "it" happened I struggled to find a quote, or anything in context.

The crux of the matter seems to be that celebrity chef Jamie Oliver referred to breastfeeding as "easy" and suggested that more women should do it.

Now, it's an emotive subject anyway.

"Easy" was a stupid word to use, because it can be blimmin' hard work, not just physically (baby waking every 2 hrs? 1hr? 30 mins? bleeding nipples anyone?) but also emotionally ("why cant i do this?" "whats wrong with me?" "my body is failing!" are all things that I have thought) and socially (oh just get a babysitter, why do you have to bring the baby etc.) and also the sense of being trapped or suffocated because you are needed so much. It's grueling and demanding, and it's certainly not easy.

Except, eventually, it can be. When baby doesn't fully rely on you, and can be left a bit, and yet when you're reunited, or they wake in the night, or you're unexpectedly out...you lift your top and away you go!

So a poor choice of phrasing, yes.

As for more women should do it....well, yes. They should.

The trouble is many who want to breastfeed struggle. Through no fault of their own. but through a society who seem to know very little about breastfeeding. and healthcare professionals lacking knowledge experience and training.

These mums haven't failed, they've been failed. And perhaps that's where the efforts should be focused, on not failing mums and babies.
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Monday, 18 July 2016

Cow's Milk Protein Intolerance

I have previously shared posts about silent reflux, tongue tie and Jacob's weight gain. Today I wanted to write a little about another little puzzle piece in our struggle; an intolerance to Cow's Milk Protein.

I spent most of Christmas day in our bedroom with Jacob screaming and crying his little eyes out. He was literally inconsolable. I played with noise, I tried skin to skin. Everything. Nothing worked. His stomach was gurgling away, he was refluxing like crazy and he just seemed to be in agony.

In lots of research on reflux I had found suggestions of a milk intolerance/ allergy. So I decided to cut out dairy, and slowly he improved. I started taking probiotics, and giving him some too. I massaged him, including his tummy, everyday and I finally felt like we were on the right track. Then he had his tongue tie cut, and his reflux disappeared.

Babies are naturally not very tolerant to Cow's Milk, because when you think about it...why would they be? it's another species' breastmilk. Our tolerance to Cow's Milk is kind of "Learned" and built up. LOts of babies outgrown an intolerance to Cows Milk Protein of their own accord.

I reintroduced dairy into my diet very slowly. At one point it was looking like he wasn't coping so I eased up a bit, and tried again.

I introduced dairy into his diet directly at about 7 months, starting out with things containing dairy.

He now eats yogurt and cheese, has butter on toast etc. and does well on it, I've noticed a couple of times he's been a little gripey if he has too much but nothing too serious.

I don't know if it was a "straw that broke the camel's back" kind of scenario, or if his trouble with milk was a genuine intolerance that he's grown out of.

A few things that I found helpful:

  • A sensible dietitian; we were under the care of a really lovely one who scoffed at the pediatrician suggesting formula and encouraged me to carry on breastfeeding.
  • Giving Jacob probiotics and taking them myself (make sure they don't contain any milk products though!) within a couple of days his tummy had stopped gurgling and he was a different baby.
  • Check your baby for tongue tie
  • Rice milk was the best type I tried for adding to tea/coffee
  • Taking a calcium supplement
  • Massaging Jacob's tummy, I had learnt baby massage with Lydia and it came in very handy! I used coconut oils with a teeny drop of ginger to help digestion.
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Friday, 15 July 2016

Silent Reflux

What is silent reflux
Milk and stomach acid coming back up the throat after feeding, classic reflux results in vomiting, silent reflux in it being swallowed back down. Both are painful to baby and cause feeding issues.


  • Vomiting, posseting, regurgitation
  • Audible refluxing
  • Fussy feeding behaviour- crying, bobbing on/off the breast/ bottle, turning away, refusing feeds, comfort feeding.
  • Whinging/ Crying/ Screaming/ Inconsolable episodes
  • Appearing in pain
  • Seeming distressed
  • Excessive dribbling
  • Back arching
  • Hate laying down
  • Sleep poorly- very short naps, waking excessively, struggling to fall asleep
  • Struggle to gain weight, or gain weight excessively due to comfort feeding
  • Great site listing some more detail

How is it treated
A range of medicines are available.Some reflux is outgrown as the digestive system matures, Some may require surgery.

Our experience
Jacob was just a few weeks old when he became a "fussy feeder". It was mild to begin with; bobbing on and off the breast, then it got worse. Every feed he was crying and thrashing and arching his back and screaming. I started to hear a squeaking noise when milk would come back up his throat and then he would swallow it back down. It was awful. He was quite clearly in pain and I felt that there was nothing I could do about it.

It helped to hold him upright, he slept best on his tummy.
Walking around whilst feeding seemed to distract him long enough to take a decent feed.

We were prescribed Gaviscon which for a breastfed baby is an absolute joke! The doctor told me to give it in the middle of each feed, and it is generally given in a bottle. Being that my little monkey has never taken a bottle, I was advised to try giving it in a syringe. The trouble was that because the dose is prescribed by weight, and Jacob was quite heavy as a young baby, he was supposed to take quite a lot. 30ml, which was 6 syringes full...at every feed...hmmm..

Needless to say the Gaviscon was a total failure, I just couldn't give it to him. It ended up making him vomit, which he'd not been doing before. It was a terrible experience.

So we went back to the doctor, who prescribed ranitidine, this was much, much easier to give and seemed to help a little. I could still hear milk coming up and going back down but Jacob no longer seemed to be in as much pain. His weight gain didn't improve though, so we were referred to a paediatrician.

We also saw a dietician who suspected an intolerance to Cows Milk Protein, so I had removed dairy from my diet.

Tongue tie, which caused Jacob's silent reflux
But, in amongst all of this, I had recognised that my sweet boy had a tongue tie even though the doctor said that he "100%" didn't. I phoned Homestart and got a referral to a specialist who confirmed that actually, yes, he did have a tongue tie, and a fairly prominent one at that. She snipped it, and overnight, literally, overnight, his reflux was gone.

I believe that Jacob's reflux was caused by his tongue tie, and his inability to feed properly. Once his tongue was more mobile, the reflux was gone.

Tips for dealing with reflux-

  • Check your baby for tongue tie, then check again, then get someone else to check, and if in any doubt get a referral.

  • Don't use gripe water/ infacol etc. these medicines work by getting baby to burp, air coming up the throat often causes milk and acid to also come up the throat.

  • Get some medication, and if it's not working change it. Going back and forth to the doctors is a pain, but definitely worth it if you can find something that works.

  • Babywear, to keep baby upright as much as you can

  • Elevate the head of the cot/crib/moses basket so baby sleeps on an angle... I can't advise anyone to let  baby sleep on their tummy, but, help baby find a way to sleep that is comfortable and safe for them.
  • Try and find a good upright feeding position, I found this tricky as I'm a dinky 5ft 2, and for some reason have these tall babies.

  • If you're breastfeeding don't give up! Breast milk is much easier for babies to digest and can help heal throats burned by stomach acid.

Anyone have more tips on daling with a baby with Reflux, or Silent reflux?
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