Tag Archives: holding baby

My nine month old’s daily rhythm

IMG_0123Wow…how Austin has grown! It seemed like only a minute ago that he was a tiny baby and now he’s crawling around the house and practicing his standing up. My day has changed as well, with me starting work a few months ago. So how does our day go?

Waking up

Austin is still a pretty reliable alarm (except for this morning, when he didn’t wake up until 8.30am and made me rush to get to work on time!). So I do trust him to wake up at around 7.30am each morning. He usually gives me a heads-up at 6.30am when he asks for a breastfeed.

Getting ready for school and work

IMG_9454Austin is going through a clingy stage, so he doesn’t like me walking around when he’s on the floor, even if it’s in the same room. If I try and make breakfast in the kitchen and put him on the floor he clings to my legs and asks to be picked up!

So instead I kill two birds with one stone and ask Oli to wake up and take care of Austin while I prepare breakfast and get ready for the day.

I am blessed to have a flexible employer and have asked to start work at 9.15am. This gives me time to walk Oli to school on the days I work from home or to drop him off if I am driving to the office. Austin always comes along, either in the sling or in the carseat, which luckily he doesn’t mind (except when we’re putting his seatbelt on!).

Work and play

So for the next five hours I am working. Working part-time is a great balance for me at the moment, as I still get plenty of time after work to spend time with my family and even cook dinner (which I never found time for when working full-time).

IMG_9912If I am at home (which is three days each week) I put Austin on the floor at my feet and work while he spends the morning playing. He’s pretty good at entertaning himself but if I am speaking on the phone he rushes over to me and asks to be picked up. He probably thinks a stranger is around and gets scared. This of course, is not very good timing, so I call out to Dada or Charlie to take care of Austin so I can finish my call. If I am planning a call I make sure someone is with him first. Other than that, it’s pretty relaxed working with my boys around and of course Austin gets lots of attention from Dada and Charlie. Although I am working, I still get to be a part of his life and watch him develop and grow. I was there when he rolled over for the first time and when he spent a week learning how to crawl and then finally did it. We all cheered and he looked at us with a, ‘what’s going on?’ expression.

Austin tends to have a short morning nap, perhaps around 9.30am, but lately he’s been staying awake until about 11.30am. I take five or ten minutes out to breastfeed him to sleep and if he doesn’t go to sleep right away I just get back to my work and wait until he looks tired again. Sometimes Dada might take over and rock him if he’s too tired to play but taking too long to fall asleep. He might also have another 20 minute nap in the afternoon, perhaps around 1.30pm.

If I am working from the office (the other two days each week) IMG_9896I wave bye to Charlie and Austin after Dada drops me off at work. Dada then takes care of Austin while I’m away. Until this week David would drive Austin to my work at around 12pm for a breastfeed, but this week he decided to see if Austin could go without and he did fine. Even when I got back into the car at 2pm Austin wasn’t fazed. He didn’t really think about having a breastfeed until we got home and I picked him up and put him in the breastfeeding position – at that point his eyes lit up and he got excited about having his feed.

Afternoon

After work I put Austin in his sling again and we take a walk to Oli’s school to pick him up. Austin’s chubby legs never fail to attract attention and he often tries to hide behing the sling straps to get some peace!

I then might spend some time with Austin before starting to get dinner ready (I rarely get to spend time with Oli or Charlie as they’re off playing with their next door neighbours).

Austin might also have a third nap at around 4.30pm, but the last few days he hasn’t really been as tired, so it seems he’s going from three naps to two.

IMG_9898If Austin is asleep or occupied while I’m making dinner I’ll leave him to it. If they’re home, Austin often chooses to spend time with his brothers and crawls all around the house following them around. Other times Austin doesn’t want to play and so I or Dada put him in the sling while making dinner. The only problem is when he tries to grab things and then drops them on the floor!

Dinner

IMG_9892Austin loves his food and is always happy to be put in his highchair for dinner time. I tend to give him the same food everyone else is eating, although I cut it up into tiny pieces first because he tends to choke on anything that’s too big (and he doesn’t have any teeth yet, so he can’t chew his food up!). If Austin can’t have our food (which doesn’t happen often, as we also need to please our four and seven year olds!) then I might give him some avacado or pear or toast. Although I’ve noticed he’s not much into avacado these days.

Bed time

IMG_0059At 7pm I put Austin in the bath. Since he’s a very competent sitter I no longer get in the bath with him, as it’s a small bath and too squishy for me plus an active baby. He has fallen backwards a few times but I’m there to sit him back up again and he’s never been hurt as the water cushions his fall. It helps not to fill the bath up too high (just enough to cover his legs) because then he’s heavier and more grounded. Grandma and Aunty Anna bought Austin some groovie bath toys for Christmas so Austin is never short of things to play with. He also enjoys examining the taps and throwing his toys on the bathroom floor and watching where they land.

Sleepies

After bath I take Austin to the bedroom to dry him up and get him ready for bed. As soon as I lie him down on his towel he begins to cry, but if I let him hold his tube of baby cream he cheers up immediately. I try to get Austin dry and dressed quickly as it’s the only part of the day he isn’t fond off.

IMG_9709I then lie down with him on a floor matt and feed him to sleep. I used to put him to sleep on the bed, and once he learned to crawl we put pillows all around him to stop him from rolling off. Because he always cries when he wakes up we always had time to get to him before he had time to move. But one night he didn’t make a sound when he woke up and simply crawled right off the bed! So from that night on we haven’t put him to sleep on a raised surface and I pick him up off the floor mat and put him in bed with me once I am ready to go to sleep myself.

Until that time Austin might wake up a few times (or sometimes not at all). As soon as I hear him cry I go to the bedroom and settle him back down with a breastfeed. It usually only takes five minutes before he is asleep again. Because the bedroom is at the front of the house and I usually spend my evenings at the back of the house, not long ago I bought a second hand baby monitor (it only cost $2 and it’s perfect!). So now we don’t need to check on Austin or pause a movie or listen out for sounds because we can hear any noises he makes loud and clear.

My four month old’s daily rhythm

Now that Austin in four months old I’ve noticed that we’ve settled into a nice daily rhythm.

Waking up

I no longer need to set my alarm for 7.45 am in the mornings, as Austin tends to wake me up before the alarm goes off (I still do it though, just in case!).

If Austin wakes up too early (like this morning, when he woke up with a happy smile at 6am), I put my arm around him and show him my face – which has closed eyes hoping for more sleep. He soon realises it’s not wake up time yet and goes back to sleep for a bit. I’m amazed at how well this works.

However, usually I can only get away with this once. When he next woke up at 7.30 am it was time to get him out of bed or face a very upset baby!

IMG_7503Getting Oli ready for school

Oli loves spending time with Austin, but hates getting up in the morning. Knowing this, I’ve devised the perfect plan. After getting out of bed I change Austin’s nappy then take him into Oli’s room and ask him to look after Austin while I get dressed and ready for the day. Oli can’t resist some time with his baby brother and gets up without any complaints to play with Austin while I get ready.

After Oli has his breakfast I put Austin in his sling and we set off to walk Oli to school.

First nap

IMG_7245Austin enjoys his walk to Oli’s school but rarely makes it home awake.

On the way to school Austin sits in his sling and takes in the view.  When we get to the school he is often greeted by mums dropping off their kids. When he’s especially chirpy, he gives them a big shy smile.

On the way home his eyes get heavy and his head leans into me. By the time we get home at 9.15am Austin is well into his morning nap, so I make myself and Charlie some breakfast then sit down in front of the computer for a while (I imagine this time will be spent working once I finish maternity leave in a few months).

The afternoon

After Austin wakes up from his morning nap, usually around 10.30am or so, we get on with the day.

Perhaps he’ll play with Charlie or dad for a while or I might take the boys to the park. Other things we might do is sit in the garden and look at trees (Austin loves trees) or perhaps go grocery shopping.

Baby music class

Baby music class

On Fridays Austin enjoys a baby music class (he gets free classes because Charlie is enrolled in the music program). I was sceptical about doing classes with such a tiny baby, but he actually does enjoy it. He stays alert for the entire 45 minute lesson and afterwards he always has a big nap, as he must feel exhausted after all the dancing, singing, touching, looking and bouncing!

Throughout the day Austin has a few naps. If I’m at home I put him to sleep on my lap and go on the www or do puzzles with Charlie. If I’m out and about, he naps in his sling. I haven’t really been paying attention to when he naps or how long for. We just play it by ear. I know when he’s ready for a nap when he starts complaining and rubbing his eyes. If we’re walking somewhere sometimes I look down at him and realise he’s fallen asleep without me even noticing.

Bath time

IMG_7235Oli and Charlie have their bath at 7pm. After they finish they have a quiet play while Austin and I pop in to have our bath. Austin is always excited when it’s bath time. He wiggles his body with excitement as he gets undressed and then his dad plops him down into the bath while Austin grins from ear to ear!

After bath I read stories with Oli and Charlie. If Austin is awake he joins us, but sometimes he is asleep by then, so I either hold him or give him to dad to cuddle.

Bed time

The boys are usually asleep by 9pm. I then might take Austin to bed with me and read a book or hold him on the couch while I watch TV. Sometimes I hold him while I write in my journal. However I choose to spend my evening, Austin is usually crashed out for the night (with a few brief wakings for a boob), and then it all starts again.

Getting enough sleep when you have a baby

baby_clipart_sleeping_bedI thought I’d know more about parenting after I had one child, two children, three children, but in the end, knowing whether your child’s temperment is due to parenting or genetics is a question that can never truly be answered. In any case, I’ve been blessed with a happy third baby, who, when he isn’t smiling, is sleeping. So, just in case I’ve had anything to do with this (my second son was also a happy, sleepy baby whereas my first wasn’t – I have a theory as to why), I’d like to share the things I think have helped me and my baby get  plenty of sleep.
Bathe your baby in sunshine in the day and darkness in the night

On the day your baby’s born, he won’t know when you’d like to sleep or when it’s a good time to play. He’ll just follow his own rhythm, which luckily for tired mums, is mostly sleep with a little bit of breastfeeding (except on day three, which involves mostly breastfeeding with a little bit of sleep as baby builds up his milk supply!).

To show your baby when it’s sleeping time and when it’s playing time take your baby outside during the day (this can also help prevent jaundice and give baby (and yourself!) some vitamin D). Sit under a tree or take a walk. Make sure there’s lots of movement, light and noise, even when your baby is napping. At night, turn off the lights and stay quiet. If your baby wakes, don’t turn on the light unless you really need to, and if you do, use a dim light like a reading light. I don’t even speak to my baby at night so he knows it’s time to rest, not play.

After a week or so baby should be pretty good at sleeping at night (with brief wakings for feeds/wees etc of course!).

Share your bed with your baby

I didn’t start out co-sleeping with my first baby, but it didn’t take me long to work out that sleeping with him was way a good idea. For instance:

  • I didn’t need to worry about my baby. Whether your baby is in a separate bed in your room or you’re keeping in touch with them through a baby monitor because they’re in a separate room, you’ll likely worry about your baby. This is especially true during the first few days when your baby makes crazy sounds while sleeping – like they’re being strangled or have just stopped breathing. You’ll likely get up a billion times to check this hasn’t actually happened. This is much easier to do when you’re lying next to them, nice and cozy in your bed :)
  • I could breastfeed in my sleep. The only evidence I have of this is waking up with my boob lying next to my baby’s mouth when I’d gone to bed with it fully covered under my shirt. Often I have no memory of having to wake up and get my boob out. It’s pretty cool.
  • amazing things happen when you sleep with your baby, like helping your baby regulate their breathing and body temperature (as well as other incredible things). This helps keep them safe from SIDS in the early days. Here’s some more information about this.

Not to mention that sleeping with babies is normal human behaviour. Putting babies to sleep in a separate room is a recent idea and only practiced by a minority of parents, mostly in western countries.

Breastfeed your baby

If you’re in a position to choose between breastfeeding your baby or using formula, you’ll both be better of if you choose breastfeeding. Besides all the health reasons for choosing a whole food for your baby that meets their nutritional and developmental needs, it also means you can breastfeed in your sleep (see my point above), rather than get up to make formula in the middle of the night.

Some people may tell you formula is a better choice. They claim that because breastmilk is easily digested it doesn’t fill up baby’s tummy for as long, so your baby is more likely to wake up at night from hunger. While this might be true, research shows breastfeeding mums still get more sleep. And if you don’t feel like reading about it, here’s a short video.

Go to bed early and take naps

Don’t expect to be at your best with minimum sleep when you have a baby. Pre-baby I went to bed around midnight, but now I generally head off at around 10.30pm. This makes up for the brief wakings that I may experience during the night, so I can get up in the morning feeling like a human!

You’ve probably also heard people say that it’s important to take naps with your baby during the day instead of choosing to do chores or even fun things, like read blogs. This is true!

Don’t dictate baby’s schedule

Trying to keep up with your baby’s sleep needs can be difficult and time consuming, so don’t!

As soon as you have a ‘routine’ worked out, for example, you think your baby goes to sleep at a certain time, or has a certain number of naps, or naps for a certain amount of time, it changes. It can be hard to work out what’s happening when you’re expecting your baby to continue their pattern - he’s growing fast and will go from sleeping nearly all day in the first few weeks to only one nap or so by the time he’s one, so expect changes every few weeks.

You can look to your baby to work out if it’s time for a nap, not the clock. An easy way of letting your baby decide their schedule while you get on with your day is to put them in a sling. This lets your baby nap whenever they need to, even when you’re out and about.

One point about this – while newborns love being in their sling most of the time, older babies are likely to want out unless you’re on the move. I find that from about three months of age, my babies won’t let me sit or stand still for long if they’re in a sling. If your older baby is ready for a nap you can put them in the sling and take a walk or bounce them around until they fall asleep – which won’t be long if you’re following their cues.

It’s OK to wake up during the night

It’s perfectly normal for babies to wake up several times a night. Perhaps they’re hungry or just need to check you’re still around and everything is OK. This will happen less and less as they get older.

Babies are also known to become suddenly very aware and full of life at certain milestones – when they first work out how to roll over and especially when they work out how to stand up! Many a night I watched as Charlie seemed almost asleep at my breast and then suddenly rolled over, picked himself up and started practicing his standing-up skills against the bed rail! After he satisfied himself he’d plonk himself down next to my boob and look like he was going to sleep, but then he’ll get up again. This would go on for a long time before he finally had no more energy left and went to sleep. When Charlie worked out how to climb down stairs and get off the bed (putting his legs down first and then sliding down on his tummy) he practiced this at night too.

It may help to know that anthropologists have found many human societies experience sleep as a social activity, waking up often for a chat or to stroke the fire.  Indeed, recent research finds sleeping in one long eight hour block is not normal for humans and, like putting babies to sleep alone, is only a recent idea. Read more here…

Don’t be afraid to help your baby get to sleep

For reasons I fail to understand, many baby advice experts tell mums not to help their babies go to sleep. They ban rocking or breastfeed babies to sleep, inciting fear in mums that their baby won’t ever be able to go to sleep without ‘help’. This is complete rubbish! If your baby is having troube getting to sleep help them. It’s nice for them and it’s nice for you. Trust me – you won’t need to rock or breastfeed your baby when they’re a teenager :)

Brilliant interview with Jean Liedloff

- author of The Continuum Concept

Which book has affected you the most?

For me, it’s hands down to The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff. Throw away all your baby and self-help books…this is all you need to know…what you ALREADY knew, but forgot.

Click this link to watch an interview with Jean Liedloff explaining how we’ve lost touch with our human nature.

You can buy the book here.

Do I look like I’m a neglectful mum?

The other morning I took my two boys to a playgroup where I met one of my friends and her son, who is one of Oli’s good friends.  

The two boys were off playing together for nearly the entire time. Charlie was having ‘one of those days’ (he was a little grumpy and at night I noticed one of his cheeks was hot and red – teeth???). He stuck pretty close to me most of the time, although he did run off to play or explore every now and then. However, he would often end up running to me crying for one reason or another. I would pick him up and when he felt better he would ask to be put down again and off he’d go again.

Charlie is rescued

While Oli and Charlie were off playing I was chatting with my friend. Then a woman came towards me, with a crying Charlie in her arms. I took him and thanked her. It must have looked like I wasn’t being sufficiently attentive to my baby. 

However, I consciosly don’t go to help Charlie when he gets into difficulty (unless of course he is stuck or in some kind of danger). I have never been one to hover over my baby – I much prefer for my boys to run off and do their thing while I hang back and watch, preferrably while engaged in adult conversation or reading an interesting book. This is one of the reasons I was strongly attracted to the book, The Continuum Concept, by Jean Leidloff. After reading this book I realised my lack of interest in following my baby around while he played was quite justified.

What Leidloff writes

The way the book describes it, the mother (or other trusted care giver) is a stable source of security for her baby. The baby runs off to explore and when he needs reassurance he runs back to mum in the knowledge that she will be ready to attend to him ‘if he asks’ for attention. This allows the baby the freedom to explore and build confidence, with the full knowledge that mum is exactly where he left her and he can go to her at any time. In an interview, Leidloff explicitly said not to go to your baby when he cries, but to let him come to you. To make the point she jokingly added that you are allowed to go to your baby if he has broken legs.

Charlie ‘checks-in’

I have embraced this philosophy, as it really fits the way I like to parent. After reading the Continuum Concept I understood how to meet my baby’s needs for security and independence and my own needs for adult interaction and persuing my own interests. I starts when your baby is born. You hold your baby constantly – giving it total confidence in your love and presence.

Eventually your baby will be ready to leave your arms. Charlie started doing this at around five months. He would sit on my lap and wriggle around, asking to be put on the floor next to my feet. There he would sit and then not long after would ask to be picked up again. As Charlie got older he started crawling away from me and would then come back. Eventually he learned to walk, and would go off further and further for longer and longer periods of time. Each time he would return to me – and I would embrace him – reaffirming to him that I was there whenever he needed me.

I loved watching this play itself out when we were out. Charlie would run off to play and then run back to me to ‘check in’ on a regular basis. He would come up to me, ask to sit on my lap, maybe have a five second breastfeed, and then would immediately jump off and get back to playing.

So that is the philosophy behind the fact that I appear to be a neglectful mum! And while some people may not think so, I am sure many do. There have been several incidents when I have waited for Charlie to come to me, but before Charlie even had a chance to think about what he needed, a well-meaning person would ‘rescue’ him and either help him out or hand him to me. They must be thinking, ‘why isn’t she taking care of her baby?’

Scott’s article

I decided to write this blog today because I came across an article by Scott Noelle, who offers parenting advice based on the Continuum Concept philosophy. Scott wrote:

“If you realize you’ve been a compulsive “rescuer” — inadvertently blocking the development of your child’s ability to seek and find comfort — then I suggest a gradual transition from reactivity to availability. When your child is upset, focus immediately on attuning and opening your heart to her, but wait a bit before overtly offering help. See if she will come to you on her own. Give her opportunities to rediscover and enhance her comfort-seeking abilities, but don’t hesitate to offer comfort immediately when your intuition is that she needs you now. Babies especially need immediate comfort, which is one reason why they instinctively prefer to be in direct physical contact with a familiar caregiver, 24/7.”

You can read the full article here http://www.scottnoelle.com/parenting/child-centered.htm

Guest blogger, Jo Williams, shares great ideas on helping mothers avoid postnatal depression

Postnatal depression (PND) affects almost 16% of new mothers in Australiam according to beyondblue, a non-profit organisation helping people with depression and anxiety. Women with PDD can experience a prolonged period of low mood, reduced interest in activities, tiredness, sleep disturbance and appetite and negative thoughts and feelings, See http://www.beyondblue.org.au/index.aspx?link_id=94 for more information.

Please welcome guest blogger, Jo Williams, who has some great ideas on how mothers can avoid postnatal depression. Jo is married to Neil and lives in  Surrey, United Kingdom, with their 19 month old son. Jo and Neil are expecting their second baby in July.  A member of Jo’s mum’s family (Jo is not sure exactly who, as it is never talked about) suffered from increasingly severe and untreated PND with each of her babies, eventually committing suicide after having her fourth child.  Jo says that she feels the reason she never got PND herself is because she took the threat of it seriously, did her reading, thinking and preparation before her son was born and continued to watch for the early warning signs, nipping them in the bud, for many months after the birth.

Idea no. 1 – Co-sleep and breastfeed

Depression (in general) has been linked in various studies (and I can see it in my own sister’s depression) to a lack of sleep (see http://www.nationalpost.com/life/health/story.html?id=1492104). And who, having a small baby, doesn’t suffer to some extent from a lack of sleep?! The obvious answer to me on this is to;

  1. co-sleep, and
  2. breastfeed.

To my mind, rolling over, latching the baby on and then going back to sleep has got to be more restful than the baby waking up crying in its cot down the hall, me dragging my arse out of bed, going to the kitchen, boiling the kettle, finding I have no sterilised bottles, washing one up, sterilising it in the microwave, making the bottle of formula, cooling it down to a drinkable temperature (all while the baby is shrieking) and then having to stay awake while they baby calms down and takes the bottle because I have to make sure it doesn’t choke on the bottle. Call me lazy, but that is just a recipe for depression!

This link leads to a good guide on ‘A Breastfeeding-Friendly Approach to Depression in New Mothers’ http://www.nhbreastfeedingtaskforce.org/nhbftf-ppd-curriculum.pdf

Idea no. 2 – Take breaks from the baby if needed, or not!

I think the advice about ‘have plenty of breaks from the baby’, is as unhelpful as ‘don’t put the baby down for one minute’. If mum WANTS to be with baby pretty much all the time, MAKING her have a break will cause her anxiety, just as HAVING to be with the baby all the time would cause anxiety if she WANTS to have a break. The main thing is to have the possibility of taking a break if you want one and not beating yourself up either way.

Idea no. 3 – Get out of the house

I think having breaks from being stuck in the house on your own with the baby is important. Maybe finding something to do or someone to see each day so the mother isn’t on her own, for instance, mother’s groups, playgroups  or story times at the library. Just something to get out of the house and give a purpose to the day. Also, a walk in the park is not only free, but also a good workout when you’re babywearing, and we now know exercise helps combat depression (see http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/depression-and-exercise/MH00043).

Idea no. 4 – Wear your baby

One of the benefits of babywearing (and this is going to sound a bit odd) is that you don’t have to look at your baby. When I say that’s a benefit, I mean to mums with PND, as I’ll explain. When your baby isn’t in contact with your body, it needs to reassure itself in other ways that it hasn’t been (and isn’t going to be) abandoned. So the baby tries to make eye contact with you and tries to get you to interact with it. For mums with PND, it can sometimes be very hard to make encouraging eye contact with a baby in this way and if the baby is met with a blank or indifferent face that is a problem. If, however, you are holding or wearing your baby, the baby is already reassured that everything is OK and doesn’t need to rely on your smiling face. As a result, the baby continues to form a good attachment with you, even at times when you perhaps couldn’t care less about the baby, so once the PND has subsided the baby hasn’t been harmed and you can get on with enjoying one another.

According to the US National Women’s Health Information Center website (http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/depression-pregnancy.cfm), babies whose mother’s have PND may cry more.  Fortunately for babywearers, studies show that ‘Increased Carrying Reduces Infant Crying’ (see http://www.portareipiccoli.it/trial_hunziker.htm), which has got to be good if you’re depressed.  Crying babies often provoke a feeling in mums (and those around them) of, ‘what am I doing wrong?’ leading to ‘I can’t cope,’ whereas mums are always praised for having quiet, contented babies (why do you think Gina Ford sells so many books – it’s the word ‘contented’ on the cover) and feel, ‘I CAN meet my baby’s needs’.

For me, one of the hardest things was, ‘can I meet my own needs’. I found that very hard to deal with when my son was small and feeding ALL the time (this was at a time before I discovered babywearing).  Being stuck on the sofa for weeks on end, not able to get up and make a cup of tea or sandwich, was really tough, let alone having a shower or brushing my hair.  The benefits of babywearing are obvious if you’re having ‘who the hell am I?’ issues, because you can fool yourself that your bump has just moved out of your tummy and up onto your chest, but you’re still an independent person with, yes, two hands free!

Other articles on the benefits of babywearing can be found at http://www.thebabywearer.com/index.php?page=bwbenefits

Idea no. 5 – Find support or attend counselling

The US National Women’s Health Information Center website (http://www.womenshealth.gov/faq/depression-pregnancy.cfm) has some useful information and shows that antidepressants aren’t necessarily the automatic answer, when support and counselling can also help. The website also has some tips, like ‘don’t try to do too much’, which I was certainly guilty of when my son was born. Next time I’m having a fortnight in bed with the baby while my husband runs around looking after everything else!

I do think you have to have the right help – having my mother-in-law helping would give me PND and a divorce, quite frankly, whereas having my cousin with me would be bliss!  I have told my husband that if we’re ever expecting twins, I’m having a post-natal doula to help out.

Also, if anyone came to visit they had to bring food (except my mother-in-law, who brought champagne – how useful is that when you’re breastfeeding and on prescription medication?!).  My aunt, on the other hand, is a professional cake maker (I know, what a burden!) and when my mum came to visit she came with three different sorts of home-made cake, complete with instructions on freezing.  Maybe they should replace anti-depressants with home-made cake…yum!

Idea no. 6 – Sort everything out before your baby is born

I think good preparation on practical things is important, as it gives you a break when you’re at your busiest.  When we were expecting our son I made sure all the washing was done, the mountain of ironing was finished, the house was tidy, we had set up our login and shopping list for online grocery ordering and home delivery, the nappies and baby clothes were washed (we had a pack of disposables in case we couldn’t keep up with the washing – we never needed them), the freezer was full, the bills were paid etc.  That way, when I did every feed standing up for the first four days following an extensive episiotomy (not something I recommend), couldn’t sit down for twelve days, the baby was losing weight, etc we still had something decent to eat and had clean clothes to wear.  Even if I wasn’t sure I was coping with being a mum and having a baby, the practicalities of life weren’t also demanding my attention and energy.

Idea no. 7 – Expect the worst, hope for the best!

One thing that helped me was going into the first two weeks of motherhood with an attitude of, ‘this is going to be absolutely awful’.  That helped because the first two weeks WERE absolutely awful!  I’m sure that if I had thought, ‘oh, this is going to be a breeze, breastfeeding will be easy, I’ll be a goddess etc,’ the reality of what happened would have been much harder to deal with and I would have felt like I was failing.  As it was, I pitched it just about right – it was hard work and extremely tiring, and there was a point when I nearly collapsed emotionally, but we stuck together and got through the first two weeks, then we got through the first six weeks and by then we were old hands.  But reality bites when you have a new baby and it isn’t lovely and the baby isn’t cooing.  The reality is your boobs ache, you can’t get a decent latch for love or money, you don’t know what day of the week it is, you’ve only had two hours of sleep at a stretch, day or night, the baby’s losing weight, your husband’s losing weight (oh yes!), you haven’t had a shower in four days (yuck!) and the thought of stepping into the garden feels like a foreign country because you’ve become so housebound.  And that’s the first five days!  But if you know that’s normal and it won’t always be like that and celebrity mums such as Posh Spice with her size zero dresses are an absolute fiction, then makes the hard work more bearable and, for me, eventually, a privilege.