A breastfeeding journey (Update)

It’s been ages since I wrote here, well since I wrote at all! I’ve been writing my own personal diary for my little one, so while on a flight from work last week I took the chance to write a bit more, this time about breastfeeding. So I thought, why not share it? So here it goes

Dear Emily,
I’m not sure exactly at what point I’ve decided that I wanted to breastfeed you, but once I’ve made my mind after a lot of research online, I was totally into it. I guess in a way was because I was reading all about hypnobirthing but also because I thought it would be the most natural thing to do and would reinforce our bond as mother and baby. I did the classes – which made it all look so easy (point the nipple to the baby’s nose, wait for the big yamn and then go for it). While pregnant I would massage my breasts and even try to hand pump. Corina (the midwife) told me I could try to collect the colostrum (the first time milk which is really fat and rich and literally gold like!) in case you couldn’t be fed from me for whatever reason. So there I was, taking any shower chances to try to pump. One month before you were to be born the gold juice came out but I didn’t found a way to store it. Was just happy that I could produce milk and was ready for you. Started to sleep with pads as I would leak. 2 weeks later it stopped leaking and I couldn’t hand express anymore. I could have used that as a sign that something was wrong (that and the increased sickness) but until your due date I was clueless. Funnily enough on the morning you were born I told Corina I was leaking again and that was sign. You were born less than 1h later (c section but oh well). Interestingly enough I was starting with contractions too. Amazing how your body gives to many signs of things changing if only we could read them. In a way I also wished I could read your cries although know I kinda recognise the differences of some of them. Really looking forward for you to speak and tell me what’s going on or even tell me what are you thinking about.
Anyway back to the breastfeeding business. I knew I was committed to do whatever it takes to get going. You see your grandma was told that her milk was weak and that she had to give me formula. She didn’t had other info or Internet to check it. So the more the reason for me to carry on.
You seemed aligned with me as I woke up with you already feeding from me. I felt so lucky that at least one of us knew what she was doing. Corina helped a lot with my wish to do skin to skin and bf as soon as possible. You were so starving from the 4 weeks of poor food supply that you even try to feed from daddy as he was the first to hold you (can you imagine that, from those hairy nipples yuck). When we went home, powered by the 1st days baby blues, you were feeding loads. You barely lost any weight at all and were doing great. But then a growth spurt came along (I will explain about what a growth spurt is at some point) and everything changed. I also had panic attacks and insomnia and didn’t slept for a good 3 or 4 days at all. Everyone was so worried about me! Eventually I did fell asleep and had a dream which I wrote on a notepad as it was so nice. But then the breastfeeding problems started to materialise. I had pain pain and pain and you would take sometimes a full hour feeding. I was told I should feed based on your cues for it but that meant all you did was feed to throw it all up a few minutes later. I changed you a million times a night. Also I had my nipples in blood and they were completely torn apart. Corina told me to try the nipple shields with caution as they generate nipple confusion ij the early days and they lead to a drop in supply. So between nipple cream, nipple shields and no nipple shield I was going on. Eventually Cherryl (the other midwife supporting us) thought that I was doing everything right so she decided to put a finger in your tiny mouth to see the tongue movement and she said most likely you had tongue tie but she would prefer an expert lactation consultant to check it. I was puzzled because I asked a few times at the hospital and they’ve said you were fine. They made me feel I was a stupid mum and I couldn’t just follow a simple nose to nipple but in the end they had not examined you properly. It made all the sense in the world! This was it, my little baby had tongue tie, so you were struggling as much as I was to feed. The expert confirmed what Cherryl had already said and did the tongue release with scissors straight on the spot. You went straight to the breast and I just felt good. The pain was gone!
I thought it would all be sorted from that day onward and that it would finally be easy. But your colic and what I’ve discovered through Cherryl reflux were there to stay. So you see they say bf babies suffer a lot less from colic and reflux than formula fed because you swallow less air. But in case of tongue tie this will not hold true, so you can see how I had high hopes this was salvation but no. You were in pain, crying all the time, arching in pain. After reading a lot on the matter I’ve decided to carry on bf and stop dairy. Now, try to cut dairy from your diet (well hope you don’t have to) there’s milk everywhere!!!! I was reading every label before I could eat something. Then I was also cutting chocolate and coffee (surely you know how I love both) and tomatoes (my Mediterranean diet out of the window) and any acidic foods and fruits. But nothing was helping out. I had pressure from friends and family to put you on reflux formula but I knew that could make it worse and I didn’t wanted to stop. I was willing to do the sacrifice. I’ve spent almost 4 months like that but nothing was helping. Also had a food diary but couldn’t find any specific triggers. I was crying every single day. I felt gutted I couldn’t use this special time of having you 24h with me. I was depressed. But not even that was enough to stop me. Then you started to refuse feeds and I had to pump to feed you. I still remember starting to pump at 18h to have your milk ready for 19h as you were uber fussed by then. Oh my dear, you couldn’t sleep and you were in pain so no wonder!!! Having to pump was dropping my supply. I was also pumping in the morning to save for when I was going back to work at 6 months. I felt like a mini cow! There was milk everywhere! In the first few months I had lots of milk, as soon as you would get anywhere near me milk would come up as if you were in a shower. Oxytocin doing its magic. I could even feel the milk coming up when it was time for you to feed. Or if I wouldn’t feed on time my boobs would be enormous and rock solid, I can tell you that hurts!
Because you discovered the bottle (first time I think you were over 3m, they advise you to avoid bottle until the supply is well established and to avoid nipple confusion) and you’ve got lazy. Why would you have to suck hard if from the bottle it would just come without an effort. Obviously being my daughter you had to be a lazy but. Another reason for me to end in tears as I didn’t wanted to stop. I was not willing to lose this war. I would have you on my arms playing with you with boobs out until you would latch again. So I’ve managed to carry on.
At 5.5 months we finally saw a gastro paediatrician and she told us to go back to a normal diet and for me to just try the thickener. I was so stressed at that point as you were losing weight. I felt that my boobs were failing me and I was thinking that maybe I was being selfish for wanting to carry on bf.
So there I was back to pumping so had the thickener. You were feeding every 3h and it was taking me a good 1h to pump so you do the math. At 6 months, right as I was back to work you’ve started to barely throw up and recover weight. The reflux battle was won (but not the sleep one)! But being back at work was a challenge for our bf journey.
I had to pump for 1h30 initially and the milk started to drop…. The first time I’ve pumped at work I’ve managed 360ml, then it was around 200 ml and then could barely achieve 120ml (1 feed) and my frozen milk supply suddenly was gone. At around 8m you had formula for the first time at the nursery. I felt so sad that my milk was no long enough for you.
I felt so powerless…. I’ve kept on pumping in the office after lunch. Meaning I would breathe my lunch at my desk to save that time for pumping. It was hard to manage between meetings. At your birthday I’ve decided I had enough of pumping as I hated it. Also you should be moving over to more food and less milk. You still had 1 bottle of formula at the nursery but oh well. At night it would still be boobs out.
Just right after that I had to spend my first night away from you for work. It’s just so hard. Your heart almost stops knowing I wouldn’t be able to hold you or even see you. I know it was just 1 night but it was hard. Plus I was worried on the impact on my breastfeeding journey. The first time I left the pump at home so spent 1h pumping in the shower before bed and the same when I woke up. My flight got cancelled and I’ve ended up in tears in the airport. I’ve cried for a good whole 30m until I had another ticket to go back home the same day. I just couldn’t control my sobbing. I had strangers telling me it was just a flight, that we would be back the same day. How could they know?? It was my first time away from you. Couldn’t bear the thought of another night without you plus I was in so much pain as my boobs were engorged. I had no clue it could hurt as much as it did. When you started feeding from me that night I felt so grateful to have you in my arms!
Fast forward, you are now over 16 months and I still feed you. People are amazed I still feed at this point. But I’m sad because I barely have any milk. I feed you before bed but barely anything comes. You pull my top down and you want it but then you get cross that nothing comes. If I had pump some drops come out but I wonder if you’re just playing or actually feeding anything. We have to give you a bottle before bed because it helps you sleep but I want to stop it in the next 2 months. Not sure how long I will be able to say I still bf but hope we can carry on for another 2 months. Would love to reach 2 years but doubt that. I just feel proud of our bf journey together. I feel quite passionate about it because I had to work really hard to keep it up. No one tells us how hard it is! I was not prepared for all I had to face. And worse, there’s barely any support. I’ve relied on internet forums and my own research to keep it up. A lot of mums don’t even know about tongue tie or baby reflux (well even some doctors don’t seem to know much about it).
I’ve felt I’ve learnt a lot. I’m still online to support other mums where I can and I feel quite protective towards them.
One point I’ve missed. Breastfeeding in public. Initially I felt awkward like any mum would but then I was like I couldn’t care less. I would try to cover you with a scarf but you hated it, so I’ve stopped. Being quite shy it’s quite funny I’ve accepted that boobs could be out and could be seen. But if you needed feeding I would feed you right where I was. You wouldn’t feed quietly and would keep on moving legs in positions that I doubt even yoga masters could achieve so boobs would be out. Your dad would be more embarrassed than I was. It was a natural thing to do so I’ve ignored any potential looks. In the house I was also walking quite often with boobs out. It feels quite liberating actually.
So yes, aside from how hard it is, then theres the whole bf in public debate!
I’m hoping if I’m alive to see grandchildren (geez, now I’m feeling uber old!!!) I will be there to support you no matter what choice you do. Because this is a journey you can’t really do alone!
Love you loads

Breastfeeding you on my wedding day

Advertisements

A weekend away with baby

Oh boy, it’s been quite a while! It’s not like free time is much of a thing these days, and I only have 1 baby. I can’t even imagine for those crazy families who have a lot of kids. I mean how can they survive? I barely keep my brain alive (in very limited functionality) most days. It’s very common for her to be awake for a good 4h in the middle of the night and then I’m up at 06h. I’m sure nature makes babies so cute and adorable so we don’t throw them out of the window. I love my little one loads, even when she drives me bananas and I struggle to keep it up together.

One of the things we’ve missed the most from our pre-baby life was our weekends away. Up until she was born we used to go away in December before Christmas.  So I’ve decided why not keep the tradition alive even with baby? In case it would all go pear shape, I’ve decided to select a hotel close to home, the last one I had gone to before she was born (you can read all about it here).

The hotel had the perfect Christmas mood and so cosy! Unfortunately my main camera died, so except for a few unfocused photos, all of them are black and white

Camera was already dying

and died

We only left the house after she had her nap to ensure she wouldn’t spend the whole day crying because she would be too tired. After we arrived we had a drink in the lounge, although I couldn’t stay still and she wanted to explore all over. Once our room was ready we went to change and took her to the pool. She was afraid at the beginning – first time in the pool – but then she really enjoyed it. No photos as I didn’t took the phone with me

After that time for a bath before dinner. Bless the kids menus, as at least she was entertained.

And we’ve decided to enjoy a glass of wine

And then steak

And finally the sweet moment

She behaved quite well overnight, she only woke up once. However, because of my cough, I was the one waking her up at 06h30. We’ve decided to take an early breakfast. It was snowing outside (I hadn’t seen snow in south England for almost 5 years so was really excited. Also her first time in the snow!)

 

Then realised she didn’t had proper shoes and she would get soaked 😦 So we went indoors while daddy was taking photos in the snow. She loved exploring around

And then it took us 2h to get the car out of the car park and let’s say the drive home wasn’t fun as the streets were not prepared for the snow and it was really slippery. But overall, it felt good to venture a weekend away with baby 🙂

Baby personalities

One thing I love about a growing baby is their growing and developing personalities. Little baby Em is for sure a baby that likes to make herself notice. She’s really vocal and loves to touch other babies and adults alike. I can see she’s a bossy one too.

So with this in mind, was checking for the fun, her astrology. She’s a virgo. It’s quite funny that I never really believed in astrology. I’m a scorpio myself, so most people would say really bad things about scorpios. My sister is one as well, and we couldn’t be more far apart.

Here’s what Em’s says:

The bossy streak can shine through in a Virgo child and they love to lead, yet it can irritate siblings and friends at times so you may find yourself frequently reminding them to consider others and hear what others have to say.

She’s still too young, but yeah can see the bossy streak. My closest friends who say that she follows mum’s lead on that one hahahah

However, they like to be little helpers and will often be found at your side when cooking and even be more than happy to help clear up afterwards too! This helpful nature will spill over into school and your little Virgo is likely to be one of the teacher’s favourites. Partly due to their helpful nature but also because Virgos are known to be smart and are often ahead of their years and need constant stimulation.

Hope she’s keen to help. As a child, I wasn’t! The thing about constant stimulation is so true! She’s infinite battery. As I write this post, she woke up at 10h from her nap. It’s almost 14h and you could think she would be sleepy by now…. I’ve tried for almost 1h to put her to sleep and gave up. She’s taking all her toys our of the box

Sleep is for boys

A touch of the OCD’s can be found in Virgo children, you will probably never need to utter those words ‘go and tidy your room!’, well, not to your Virgo child anyway!

Responsibility is a strong trait in Virgos and little ones will often be found taking care of their friends and siblings. Insecurity can also be a trait of a Virgo despite their leadership skills and their feelings can be easily hurt and they need reassurance they are loved.

Oh she is loved for sure and every single day I’m with her I always remind her of that

Qualities: Rational, smart, nit-picky, sensitive, bossy, helpful

Parenting tip: The more praise you give your little Virgo, the more their confidence will grow

To be honest, the parenting tip should be for all babies / kids alike.

How’s your baby personality? Are you finding any traits similar to your own?

The baby start sign info was taken from the bounty website here.

Do I have a broken baby or am I a broken mum?

Each baby is really unique! The same 2 parents can produce very different parents. I can think about myself and my sister, we are worlds apart. She’s sporty, I’m lazy but the geeky and clever one. She’s very feminine, I’m practical. As babies, I was the grumpy one and she was the smiley one. But can’t stop thinking that my mum was lucky.

For the first 3 months they went to visit doctors and non doctors to find why I seemed to be “broken” as I wouldn’t stop crying and couldn’t sleep. Eventually it turns out I was CMPI (Cow’s milk protein intollerance). In those days there was no information on the topic, but my mum was then advised to give me special formula and she gave up on breastfeeding. She was also told that her milk was too weak. Oh mum, if only there was the same information as there is now, and I would have been a breastfeed baby. Apart from that, I slept beautifully and once starting solids I would eat beautifully.

So watching my baby displaying the same behaviours as me: being really curious about everything and enjoying silly stuff like plastics and paper boxes more than any other toy I thought that maybe she could be a bit more like me.

Why doesn’t she eat? Why doesn’t she sleep?

Then by watching her peers and my friends’ babies I came to the conclusion: that’s it, by baby is broken! But then, it hits me very slowly… there’s nothing wrong with her, I’m the one who’s broken!

#1 – If she doesn’t eat it’s because I might be trying the wrong foods
Why am I giving her more solid food? Maybe she just likes soup, more liquid, or maybe it’s too boring for her. That’s it, it’s my fault that I’ve tried foods in squares, rectangles, liquid, less liquid, baby lead weaning, puree, combo or maybe jumping in the air while trying to land with a spoon on her mouth. I’m doing it all wrong!

#2 – If she doesn’t eat it’s probably because I’m still giving her too much milk
How couldn’t I have thought about that earlier? I shouldn’t be feeding her milk, I should just let her understand I’m the adult and until she eats her food (e.g. the solids) she won’t have her favourite food (breastmilk). Instead I let her rule me. Shame on me, I’m a terrible one!

Now let’s talk about sleep

#3 – If she doesn’t sleep it’s because I don’t understand her sleep patterns
If she woke up from her nap (wow she napped??? what sorcery is that?) at 14h and hasn’t sleep ever since, why did I try to put her in bed at 18h30? Why did we bother to keep on trying until 22h30 at which point she gave up and went to sleep? Because we don’t understand that maybe she’s super-baby and doesn’t need any sleep before 22h30. It should be so obvious!

#4 – Or maybe she’s too hot
Why do I dress her in the sleeping bag? She’s probably too hot

#5 – Or maybe she’s too cold
Cold hands? Obviously she’s cold

#6 – Or maybe she’s hungry
Even though every time I go up I pretty much offer her boob, my milk must be just water and she keeps on asking for more. Bad milk! Shame in you mumma!

#7 – It’s because I’m not trying either the right combination of white noise and a sleeping sheep

#8 – It’s because I fart too loud and keep on waking baby

#9 – It’s because daddy snores too loud

Nah, no reasons required really. It’s pretty obvious I’m a silly broken first time mum who doesn’t have a clue on her baby.

I feel so tempted to invite all those parents that are lucky enough that don’t understand that they should celebrate every day the fact their babies eat and sleep well to come over night and see if they can fix her. Something tells me it wouldn’t matter. shhhhh don’t worry I can take the stamp of the broken mum 🙂

 

We are only human

I honestly think that everyone is expecting super mums, who do all the magic stuff and babies sleep beautifully, they also eat so well and they still manage to make the house sparkling clean, so clean you could almost eat from the floor directly. Expectations are so high, that anything below the perfect standards and you are left to feel like such a bad mum.

Once baby is born, everyone will tell you: “oh if you need me, please just ask for help”. I guess it’s the polite thing to say, but most would expect that you will be a super mum and get on with it.

So I think we need to start to talk more about the realities of being a mum (doesn’t matter if just the first baby or many of them). It’s really hard! I thought I could manage stress and difficult situations, as I have a really stressful job, but nothing had prepared me to the perks of being a mum.

The first days I had the baby blues, we were both listening to lullabies and crying like babies at home while staring at her, her perfection and how she was the result of our love. Then reality starts to kick in. The growth spurts, the days with less than 3h sleep in total. I had a few days without any sleep at all as I suffered from insomnia (I believe that was a side effect of my birth trauma and from the general anaesthetics – you can read more here) but ah, the worst was yet to come.

Before I go into detail, I would like to add that because I thought myself of being really resilient and that I could handle pretty much everything (at least on the surface) I never ask for help. I’m the one who typically goes and helps. But maternity changed everything for me. Sometimes we need to admit we’re only human and ask for help.

That situation arrived when he ended up being hospitalised with appendicitis when she was just 3 weeks old. I remember my despair when he called me to stay he would have to stay in the hospital and I wanted to run and meet him there. I was so worried, on the other hand I was at despair because I was not yet ready to take care of her on my own. I still remember that night when I was trying to enter the bus with her pram so I could take some basic stuff for him at the hospital. Had to ask a nurse to look out for her while I would go inside and kiss him. Then returning back home and feeling so powerless. I had tears in my eyes all the way back home. When next day I told a friend about what happened, she offered to come in the afternoon and prepare some food for me. Old me would say, no thank you, I could manage, but new me said for the first time ever, yes please! I was so grateful for her help. No words really! 1 day later, I had to ask for help to another friend so she could help me at night as I had not been sleeping anything and was afraid I would let her fall from my arms. She stayed overnight with me, and was making baby sleep while I was resting in bed until the next feed. Again, no words can describe how this was so important to me and baby.

So yes, in the end we’re only human and it’s ok to ask for help and to admit we need it!!! Any stories you would like to share?

A Breastfeeding journey

I would say that breastfeeding is quite an emotional journey. It’s far more than just what the word says “feeding”. It’s a unique bond between mum & baby and it’s quite an emotional one. Once I discovered I was pregnant I’ve decided that I wanted to breastfeed. I hadn’t defined for how long, just at least the 6 recommended months, but the more time went by the more protective I’ve become of it. I now see myself as a breastfeeding advocate even though it’s really hard!

The first months

They say the first 3 months of breastfeeding are the worst and I have to agree. I was lucky that my little one knew what to do straight away, the fact that she was born low weight and starving probably helped on the matters. I felt really frustrated with the lack of support from the midwifes. Yes they would encourage to breastfeed, fortunately in UK there is a lot of encouragement for mums to start breastfeeding but on the other hand not a lot of support. There were so many things I wish I had known before. In the classes they just tell you “Nose to nipple, wait for the big yawn and go”. My little one never did a big yawn and after the first weeks I was in a lot of pain. I had bloody nipples and had to rely on nipple shields. I thought it was just me being a failure and not being able to master something so simple as “nose to nipple”. Turns out that she had undiagnosed tongue tie. I’m sure I’ve asked at the hospital if she had a tongue tie and was told she was fine. It was thanks to the support of my private midwifes that we’ve identified that she had it.

How to diagnose a tongue tie?
The proper assessment is done by inserting a finger into baby’s mouth and analyse the movements. Only trained midwifes can do a proper assessment

Once the tie was cut nipple shields were gone and the pain was no more

The reflux days

But the journey was far from being an easy one from me.  I thought I had a fast let down, whereby milks comes to fast for baby to handle it and this is why she was suffering from reflux. So I was trying to feed in upright positions (so her head would be above the nipple and beating gravity to handle the fast let down). Also went on dairy and soy free diet for a couple of months in the case she was like me, CMPA (cow’s milk protein intollerance or allergy). She wasn’t. But it takes at least 6 months to see the difference. Because of the reflux I’ve also cut tomato, oranges and any acidic foods. For a couple of months had a really restrict diet, but I was willing to do anything that could potentially help my little one.

Everyone told me: why don’t you get the special reflux formula? Me stop breastfeeding? No way! If it was a dairy problem I could deal with it. It was more than just feeding her, it was our bond together and I was not willing to let that go. And let’s not mention the horrible nights without sleep. Because I was food and comfort, I was the one getting up all the time, sleeping around 2 to 4h per day.

Did you know what if you use breastmilk you can cure a conjunctivitis in around 24h? Oh yeah, the beauty of human milk 🙂

Currently, still a struggle

One of the things I had to do while she had reflux was to pump so I could had a thickener. At 5 months my supply had dropped so much (she had a phase where she was refusing to eat) that it would take me 1h to pump a feed (around 120ml / 4oz). Did I say how much I hate pumping? I do, with all my heart! Also she wasn’t getting much weight, so at this point even my dear one started to say we should give her formula so she would get weight.

Once I went back to work at 6 months my supply dropped even more and then I had no other option but to pump during work. I’ve been trying power pumping and teas, and trying to drink loads of water to keep the supply coming, but it has been hard. At around 7 months I had used all my frozen stack and was in tears when he told me he had to give her formula for the first time as I was still at work. I felt like a failure, that my milk was no longer enough to hold her. Fortunately she takes bottle really well and it’s a pleasure for me that she actually prefers my milk to the formula (a few times she will reject formula). My family is like: “why are you still feeding her? she’s 8 months now, you’ve done your best already for 6 months”. But oh, it’s so much more that just a feed matter.

Booby juice is the best!


Breastmilk adjusts to the baby needs, can become fatter or more watery depending on what baby needs. If someone sneezes, mum’s milk will start to produce more antibodies to protect baby from infection.

Breastmilk protects baby’s developing immune system and it’s said that breastfed babies will be sick a bit less than formula fed babies even though they tend to be lower in size.

Breastfed babies will tend to be less fussy children in the future as they get used to different flavours through mum’s milk (this one doesn’t feel quite true at the moment for us as she’s really fussy but oh well)

Then the fact that I’m holding her to offer boob it’s more than just feed her. It’s to offer her comfort and knowing that I’ll always be there for her. It’s love and protection! Everyone keeps on praising me for her being such a happy baby. I’m sure she wouldn’t be like that if I would let her cry or just send him to give her a bottle as opposed to mum’s cuddles.

Yes I am tired. Yes I am exhausted. It’s so bloody hard to go to work with just a few hours sleep. Yes it’s hard this dependency on me to make her sleep and comfort her. But I’m not willing to stop, not for as long as I can keep some supply up!

Are you breastfeeding? How is it going for you?

My baby is a fussy eater, now what?

How many of you are in this situation? Well I certainly am! She started solids at 6 months although she had sweet potato pure at around 5m as recommended by the ped to ease the reflux.

I’ve started with soups / vegetable purees but it seems that she only wants fruits. Maybe the culprit is that at 6 months she tried banana and since then she can’t stand any spoon feeding, any purees or whatsoever.

I’m doing combo between Baby Lead Weaning and classic puree style. At the nursery they just do purees, at home I try pretty much anything to try to get her into eating. (You can read more about both methods here)

Her ped told me that she definitely needs at least 3 solid meals. Breakfast, lunch and dinner with some finger foods in the middle. As for finger foods / snacks it’s easy as she is a fruit lover. I’ve also introduced yogurt with her fruits to give her more fat. But the meals are a pain. Every day I try to offer something new she can try on and just move away from dried fruits / nuts / seafood / honey.

Each baby is different really, so you need to adapt and keep on trying until you find what your baby prefers. My little one even dislikes breakfast cereal which is quite sweet! I’m the one who ends up eating 99% of what I had prepared for her.

I haven’t found a method that works, but keep on trying and always speak to the ped for guidance if you are concerned. Most important thing is to give variety of vegetables / meat / fish / fruits / cereals and a bit of dairy.

A really good post on introducing solids here

How to survive a summer pregnancy

Right, everyone is looking forward for the warmer  summer days. Clothing becomes lighter, the days are longer and normally summer also means holidays.

But last year I found that for the first time in my live I really wished that summer in UK was just one day. Not only it wasn’t, but it was one of the warmer summers I remember and quite a long one as well.

I remember my mum used to say that we should avoid having the last trimester clashing with summer time, and that is because a pregnant lady will be warmer than usual due to the baby being inside. It’s like hitting the menopause a lot easier. Heat becomes a problem, quite a big one. But this is exactly what I had. Since she was born in September, I had my last 3 months on summer and I have to admit I’ve struggled with it big time. I remember once I went to the theater with my girlfriends and I’ve almost passed out in the middle of Soho because it was 30 something degrees in London (yeah unusual I know). Then in the theater as I was in a middle sit I’ve started to boil so badly I could barely breathe and had to leave to a corner so I could have a bit more air.

So how to survive a summer pregnancy?

  • Move to a colder country – Probably not practical for most of us as we won’t be able to travel at that point either
  • Eat lots of fresh fruits and drinks lots of water – Fruit was definitely my savior. I had 9 months sickness and fruit happened to be the only thing I could keep down. Water is really really crucial as you need to keep hydrated  and baby as well. So carry a bottle of water with you at all times and keep on refilling it
  • Light and comfortable dresses – I gave up on more office type dresses and was going to work in white light dresses (with a nice necklace or so), simple because I had to be comfortable and as light as possible
  • Avoid the sun – It might sound obvious but try to stay indoors during the sun peak times. Leave your walks for end of the day or early morning.
  • Get a good fan! – So in UK houses have carpets and windows that might not open fully because summer it’s not supposed to last. I had 35 degrees in my living room and it was quite unbearable. For the first time in this country I had to buy a fan. This year I’ve bought one of those tower fans because it’s important to keep the house at good temperature for baby as well
  • Avoid doing anything that will make you sweat – I mean by this stage you won’t feel like doing much anyway, but find a cool place (if they have air con even better), read a book and try to relax.
  • Find a nice outdoors coffee place in the shade so you can enjoy some fresher air. It’s a good way to pamper yourself as well
  • Nap a lot – it’s a good way to keep temperature down as well
  • Carry a spray bottle so you can refresh yourself on the go

Any other tips? Did you had a summer pregnancy too?

Starting Solids

If there’s one thing that I’ve been finding complicated is the introduction of solids. Mostly because there are loads of different rules and hard to know which one would work for you and your baby.

The well know recommendation is to start solids at 6 months for a couple of reasons:

  • That’s the point baby’s stomach has matured enough to be able to accept solids;
  • It’s also the age where baby will be able to sit unaided
  • Baby will be losing the gag reflex – the reflex that makes it to throw everything that touches the tongue
  • Baby will also start showing interest for food

Some doctors will recommend starting early for specific reasons. I was recommended the introduction of solids at around 4 months because of her reflux. I’ve kept it to sweet potato pure only, once a day, but then stopped it completely because it made more sense to follow the overall recommendation.

Then the funny part starts, how to start?

There’s 2 main approaches (ok maybe 3). The first is the classical introduction of food via purees, and the second is Baby Lead Weaning.

: Classical Approach :

You’ll start with some vegetables and pure them into a yogurt like consistency. If you have allergies in the family you should introduce 1 food at a time and wait around 2 days before introducing another one to check for reactions. If not you can start more in 1 go. I would say focus on vegetables first without introducing fruits, because babies, like adults, have a sweet tooth, so they will prefer sweet food and start rejecting everything else. Even though I’ve waited, the moment she discovered fruits she has been rejecting everything else pretty much! As baby grows you start to add more lumpy textures and more food overall.

: Baby Lead Weaning :

It’s quite trendy at the moment and pretty much says to not touch the purees at all, as baby will get confused and increase the risk of chocking and just let him grab the food and learn the chew himself, at his own pace. The idea behind it is baby will start to develop the necessary skills which will help him throughout childhood. Also the other advantage is to keep it simple and let baby enjoy what the family eats (as long as you avoid salt, sugar and honey).

What I’m following?

: Combo Approach :

I try everything pretty much. She enjoys the feeling of independence when she grabs her own food, but mostly she plays with it and doesn’t eat as much. She prefers the flavours when they are not pureed. The only thing she accepts with the spoon is fruit. Also, at the nursery they follow the classical approach. A lot of mums are doing the same and they find that baby doesn’t get confused. Anyway, babies can also choke with milk!

How much should baby eat?

Milk is still the main source of nutrition for babies up until they are 1 year old, so keep the milk feeds untouched. As for the food, offer as much as baby can handle. I know a lot of people say food before 1 is just for fun, but it’s actually not. After 6 months mum’s milk is not enough to provide all the levels of iron required. So baby needs meat / fish / vegetables and fruit. Try to start with lunch time, then add breakfast and try to offer an early dinner as well. And don’t forget to encourage baby to drink a lot of water otherwise they will get really constipated. My little one rejects pretty much everything, so she’s been constipated.

Ultimately you need to find what works for you and your baby. Follow your gut, you know your baby best, so if you believe something isn’t right just visit a doctor.

Any stories you would like to share regarding the introduction of solids? What method worked for you?

Why isn’t my baby sleeping through the night?

There is so much pressure on us mums about how much babies sleep. Specially after baby reaches the age of 3 months most people will ask: Is your baby sleeping through the night? Because you also have friends with babies that do indeed sleep through the night from 3 months onwards you will feel depressed. Yap, this is clearly me.

As you know, we’ve been battling reflux, which obviously affected her sleep. She would wake up in pain and need lots of cuddles and love to feel protected and go back to sleep. During the first few months I’ve only managed to sleep 3 to 4h a day and she was sleeping a total of 8h total max, mostly broken down by 30m naps on my lap. At 2 months she started to sleep longer and currently she can sleep 10 to 11h at night with lots of breaks in the middle. I am exhausted and feel I don’t have a life. All I do is function around making her sleep and trying to sleep myself. What I call a really good night many mums would say it’s a bad one.

As I write this, I’m over the moon that she had 3 good nights in a row (at 6 months). A good night for me sounds like this:

  • 19h Bath and final play time
  • 19h30 Feeding
  • 20h After a few tries and lots of cuddling she’s in bed
  • 00h Wakes for feeding back to bed before 00h30
  • 03h Wakes up again, feeding and more cuddle and goes to be before 03h30
  • 07h / 07h30 Wake up, nappy change, feed and take her to nursery

I’ve only moved her to her own room at 6 months, as the recommendation is for babies to sleep in the same room as the parents for the first 6 months. I found out that she’s a really light sleeper like both of us, so she was benefiting for a bit more quiet. Both her door and our room is opened so at the minimum noise I can hear her, but she’s not bothered if one of us snores or moves a bit more aggressively in bed. She still wakes at night, but it’s ok. When she’s ready to sleep through the night I’m sure she will because she loves sleeping, it’s just she can’t do it for long yet.

Most people are telling me to give her formula (which I’ll have to since I’m running out of frozen bags as I can’t pump as much as she feeds) or to let her cry out to see if she learns to sleep herself. When she’s happy she can fall asleep on her own, so if she gets distressed she’ll end up getting awake and then harder to help her sleep, so I don’t do let it cry it out (CIO).

Also, wanted to share with you a really interesting video I just found out which gives us a bit more comfort that is normal for babies to wake up at night, but it also prevents SIDS. At some point before she’s 3 years I hope she will be ready to sleep through the night, until then I need to be ready for boobing and extra cuddles.