A New Mums Guide to Surviving The First Few Weeks

I don’t think you can ever fully appreciate the full effects of sleep deprivation are until you have a baby.

When pregnant with my 1st son, I had this crazy idea that my baby would sleep all night and doze all day as that’s what babies do. So it came as quite a shock when I found out that most babies have to learn to sleep on their own, and that for some,  it’s not a natural progression from the cosy and comfortable feeling of the womb to the bright, noisy and scary world on the outside where the only place it feels safe is in the arms of mum or dad. And as sleep requires you to feel safe, then the only place my babies ever liked to sleep was on my or my husband’s chest.

All my boys have been rubbish sleepers to start so I’m well equipped to let you know just how sleep deprivation feels. Many new mums begin their journey into parenthood following the marathon of labour and in a cruel twist of fate, as your body is recovering from its battering you then have to wake up every few hours to feed your new and very dependant offspring.

smiling baby http://muminanutshell.com

Now don’t get me wrong, I love those first few days being wrapped up in the hormonal rush of love, getting to know the little person you’ve been carrying around for 9 months. And with paternity leave as well as the help from friends and family, most new mums are able to relax and let everyone else worry about the everyday stuff. My fondest and sweetest memories are of the early morning feeds, listening to the dawn chorus, just me and my babe, no distractions, no visitors, no noise. It was pure bliss.

But then the fog sets in, the fuzzy, disoriented grip of no sleep. Emotions run high, decisions harder to make and a everything just seems a little harder to do.It was after my second son was born that I remember looking in the mirror one morning and barely recognised what was looking back at me. I saw dark circles, tired eyes and a dire need of a few hours taming my mop of hair in a quiet, relaxing salon. When I wasn’t leaving the house in slippers, I was taking the hoover out the door instead of the pram. I’d put the baby in the moses basket to run the washing out, then forget where I’d put him and conversations just came out big slushy nonsense.  So, like I said, if you’ve ever experience sleep deprivation, I hear you, I hear  you loud and clear!

Third time round, you’ll excuse me for being a little nervous, as I knew what was coming, but this time I had a plan, a clever, wise and well thought out plan. Accepting that the odds were on that I was going to have another cuddler/non sleeper and knowing by now that it was perfectly normal for babies not to sleep through the night. I equipped myself with a new mum formula;

A new mum's guide to surviving sleep deprivation, hints and tips to get you through the first few weeks and months

 

Acceptance.

Babies have small tummies which get hungry quickly, and yes, breastfed babies will probably wake more often than formula fed due to breast milk being used up quickly and not taking as long to digest as formula. But my determination to feed my babies myself outweighed any sleep I could be missing. I’d nourished them from the inside and wanted to carry on now they were born. The magic of breastfeeding however, is your body produces a sleep inducing hormone when you feed at night so the bottle v’s breast decision is pretty much even when it comes to sleep. If you accept you’ll be woken, then it’s not so hard.

Don’t rush.

However your baby has chosen to come into the world, it’s tough. Labour is both exhausting and painful. C-sections are major surgery. You need time to recover both mentally and physically. Don’t rush out into the world, picking up where you left off, accept help and relax. Spend time getting to know your new baby, the housework can wait and visitors won’t care whether you’ve got dressed or emptied the dishwasher. I opted for a 10 day new-baby-bubble third time round. I didn’t leave the house, food was ordered online, family and my husband did the school run and I eased my son into the world rather than thrusting! If you have a supportive family and network of friends I thoroughly recommend it.

Collate a new mums tool kit

If you look better, you’ll feel better. Get your hair cut before baby’s born into a manageable style, drink more water to make your skin look better, take a new mum multivitamin and get together a killer, quick to apply make up set. Eye gels and eye mists will help tired eyes, a good moisturiser ( I swear by BB creams) will take care of your face and mascara and lip balm will freshen your look if you haven’t got the time to apply the full works.

Hopefully if you follow all the above, that sleep deprivation won’t seem so bad. And just remember, it doesn’t last forever. Before you know it you’ll have a teenager who sleeps more than is humanly possible.

A new mum's guide to surviving sleep deprivation and those first few weeks

photo taken by Zoe at Phaze Photography

 

 

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Tips For When You Need To Be Away From Your Breastfed Baby

Your first night out after a having a baby is always a little nerve-wracking, I don’t think anything prepares you for that moment you leave your baby, safe in the care of someone else. You’ve carried round your little bundle for all those months and it’s hard to anticipate the attachment that builds with all those lovely bonding hormones which flood your body after delivery. For breastfeeding mums this adds a little extra trepidation, being the only source of food means any time separated from your breastfed baby has to be meticulously planned, but us mamas need some time too!

With a few tricks up your sleeve you should be able to enjoy a night out  as a breastfeeding mum. Presumably you’ll breastfeed just before you go out and you’ll need to be careful about any alcohol you consume, while I’ve personally chosen to give alcohol a complete miss while breastfeeding, (due to also being a co sleeper.) B for anyone who is wondering what the consensus is around alcohol and breastfeeding the advice from Kellymom.com  and La Leche League is to avoid feeding until 2 hours after you’ve consumed alcohol and to limit it, they suggest feeding before you drink and while there is no need to pump and dump, it is advisable to pump if you’re uncomfortable. (There’s more information in the links)

So that’s your little prep alcohol talk over, here’s the rest of your night out survival tips.

It’s best to leave some milk as even the best laid plans can go astray sometimes and you’ll feel so much happier knowing that there’s an emergency bottle should baby wake when you’re out. So now grab your pencil and jot down your breastfeeding mum’s essential must have list;

breastfeeding tips1

Pump

There are many styles on the market, hand pumps, electric, double electric, it’s down to your preference really, but a breast pump. unless you’re a dab hand at hand expressing, will always come in handy. Just remember to follow the recommended expressing methods – having a photo of your baby close while being relaxed and having a hot drink helps release the breastfeeding hormones will trigger your let down.

Even a sound recording of your babies gurgles will help. In my professional days I met a mum who’s letdown was triggered by the East Enders theme tune simply because it was a specific time she remembered sitting, relaxed and feeding her son.

Plan your express schedule

Forward planning for a night out can involve building up a supply of milk, I’d recommend pumping after a few feeds so as not to interfere with your supply. Early morning feeds are when your prolactin is at its highest the hormone responsible for milk supply and formation)  putting your milk order in for the day, so earlier in the day the better and remembering to eat and drink more, you need an extra calories for breastfeeding, equivalent to that of an extra sandwich, helps.

There are certain lactogenetic foods which help with milk production. A snack of humus, carrot sticks and oat cakes mid morning will help boost afternoon milk and if you have a busy day planned, a glass of carrot juice before lunch helps. Remembering all this will help your milk supply making expressing more effective.

When you’re out, you can take the pump with you (this might be where a manual one will help.  If you find you’re feeling full, you can express for comfort and as long as you haven’t drank any alcohol, take a small cool bag and ice pack with you to store your milk. If you have been drinking the advice is to pump for comfort and to throw it away. (check the links above for more information.)

As mentioned, breastmilk storage bags and bottles should be part of your date night kit. The bags are perfect for storing expressed milk in the freezer if you’re not planning on using it straight away and are less bulky than bottles. But for transporting when you’re expressing when out and using it the next day, then the smaller storage bottles are ideal.

When it comes to giving your baby some precious, expressed milk. Using a bottle with a teat that is similar to the shape of a nipple will help them accept this alternative to the breast. I had real difficulty getting my baby to take a bottle and found gently introducing it after an initial few minutes at the breast helped along with not waiting until they’re at starving point.

Also get someone else to offer the bottle, some babies refuse point blank to take a bottle from mum for obvious reasons!

Finally don’t forget breast pads! You can never pre empt what will trigger your let down. It could be hearing a baby cry, talking about your baby or hearing a TV program theme tune (evidence for this is above!). Always take a few supplies with you and don’t leave the house without wearing them.  You don’t want your first night out to be remembered for the tell tale stains and stale milk smell.

And most importantly enjoy it, a happy mum = happy children!

If you would like to read more on breastfeeding try these;
Not so simple side to breastfeeding a toddler   
 Still breastfeeding   
Stopping breastfeeding
how to go out and prepare for leaving your breastfed baby for a few hours

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The not so simple side to breastfeeding a toddler

12 months was my goal. Once I made it past the first 2 weeks, which I will openly admit were pretty traumatic, even for a seasoned professional like me, I set 12 months as my goal.

This was my last baby and so my last ever journey of providing on tap nutrition for my dependant little being. I did 12 months with Tween and although I thought he would be the last, I was ready, so by the rule of past experience, we’d get to that milestone and I’d slowly wean my boy onto a cup for his bedtime milk.

It would be sad but I would be ready, so I thought.

But 12 months came and went. 16, 17, 18 months and those milky moments were just as much a part of his life, as important and comforting as the day he was born. But as our early days breastfeeding journey had past, our breastfeeding moments evolved.

Gone were the guessing games or decifering if he needed food, nappy changes or cuddles, was he too hot Too cold or Too bored? For good reasons or bad, a toddler will tell you when he wants feeding!

Babies will root, turn their heads towards you,  toddlers lunge! There’s top tugging, sign language and even head turning, I’m in position and you try and stop me moments which are very hard to ignore.

Babies snuggle, relax and sometimes doze. Toddlers play. They kick, they roll, they ticke and they clap. They fiddler, they tug and they twiddle. Those once sleepy milk cuddles turn into boobie gymnastics!

Toddlers have teeth. Well most do. It’s a whole new sensation where the once toothless gums are now pearly whites. Couple that with boobie gymnastics and you’re living life on the wild side! And if you’ve got a fiddler. Wowzers!

And then there’s the opinions. “You’re still feeding!” “Is that natural?” “That’s just weird” “he doesn’t need that now” “you’re one of THOSE mums”  Once you get past 12 months people’s opinions change, some more expressive, some less comfortable and most more OPIONATED!

But it’s not all bad, there are the days when the power of milk takes away pain, when he looks up, shoots me a smile as big as the Cheshire Cat and when a little hand reaches for mine, holds it in his and closes his eyes. That’s the moments I love, the simple side to breastfeeding a toddler.

 

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So what is attachment parenting?

I’m one of ‘those’ mums, you know, the type, I admit it, but I make no apologies for my parenting style.
I never set out to be an attachment parent though, I just knew that I wanted to be with my boys and my boys just wanted to be with me. It was simple. Every bone in my body, every instinct and every beat of my heart told me that’s what I needed to do.
Now before you click that little x in the corner of the page, don’t worry, I’m not preaching about how you should or shouldn’t parent your child. Everyone’s different and every family does what’s best for them, for us it was being together. A team. A package. I’m simply sharing my parenting journey for the curious.

You see, from the moment I became ‘Mum’, where ever I went my boys went and we were happy, it just worked. It soon became clear all three of my boys were velcro babies, preferring cuddles and naps in my arms and my bed to the solitude of their cots or the play mat.

I tried, I really did to get them to sleep all night in their cots. I was young (ish) always doubting and comparing. Was it something I was doing wrong? Was I too soft or too weak to enforce a routine? Was I taking the cheats way out? There were so many conflicts between my head and heart. I wanted them with me, but the baby books said No.
So I read, I researched and studied, then realised I wasn’t doing anything wrong at all. I had a style,  everyone has a style, and I was attachment parenting. Instead of creating the clingy toddler everyone was forecasting, I was responding to their cues and building brain connections so healthy, that once my helpless little chaps were ready, would grow into independent young men, with the safety net of experience  knowing I was always there, giving them the freedom to explore the world at their will.
My boys were learning empathy, emotions and blueprints for later emotional health. I wasn’t damaging them, I was nurturing them. I was doing what nature intended. And it felt good.

What is attachment parenting and how do you choose a parenting style? do you set out from the start or pick it up as you go along? here's how I ended up with mine.

I carried on with the parenting style I knew, co sleeping, baby wearing and baby led breastfeeding. Only third time round there was no worry I was doing it wrong.I was proud to declare my attachment parenting title, who cares what others do.

This is me and I’m attached!

I have the most sociable, independent and happiest little boy I could wish for. Sure, he has his off days when he’s tired or poorly and there are the moments when he wants to be carried while I’d cooking the tea, but these moments only last for so long, there’ll soon be day when I’m yearning for those little arms wrapped round my neck once more.

So I’ll carry on scooping him up in my arms, balancing him on my hip and cherishing the closeness and comfort we both adore.

I’m an attachment parent and proud.

what's your parenting style? Attachment parenting has been my thing for 15 years. it's a parenting style thats evolved

 

 

 

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A must have breastfeeding accessory – the  Breast Vest

Breastfeeding your baby is sooooo much easier if you have the right tools, and by tools I mean clothing. It didn’t occur to me when I fed my first baby that I’d have a much more relaxed and successful transition into a nursing mum  if I had clothes which allowed quick and easy access, didn’t show too much post natal wobble and weren’t making it too obvious what I was doing. While I learnt how to master this new skill, I didn’t want the additional worry about all the above but I also didn’t want to stick a blanket over my baby’s head, all my boys have been summer babies so it was neither safe or convenient hiding them under there plus I needed to be able to see what I was doing anyway. Anyway, the whole blanket thing is about as subtle as an elephant. Talking of which, elephants  and rooms, if you’re feeding in front of someone else who’s not so used to this natural and beautiful thing,  it’s can be easier to look like your just giving your baby a cuddle. A blanket or most of your mid drift on show does not have the same effect. Buuuuuut. As babies can be little money suckers leaving you with little extra dosh to spend on yourself, and while there are some beautiful and practical nursing clothes on the market, there is an option to carry on using your ordinary clothes by using a BreastVest. An essential breastfeeding accessory from Breastvest I’ve been the proud owner of a white BrestVest for quite a while now. It’s my wardrobe staple and I’m often in a panic when it’s in the wash! The concept and design is simple really. It looks just like a vest top with thin straps but sits below your nursing bra , almost like you’re wearing it back to front, when you need to feed your baby you can lift up your top and it keeps your tummy covered. The material is light enough to wear all year round and thin enough to wear under almost any top. I’m now the proud owner a black one too so now I can wear almost all the tops in my wardrobe and not worry about finding something I can feed confidently in.    They come in sizes small, medium and large so you won’t need to keep buying new ones once your size changes, as well a several different colours, I’m happy with my black and my white one but there are brighter ones to choose from. A essential breastfeeding top In celebration of the Keep Britain Breastfeeding Scavenger Hunt Breastvest are offering you the chance to win one of your own, the winner gets to choose their own size and colour, you can enter via the Rafflecopter link below

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’m linking this post in with Tried Tested and Competition linky at U me and the kids

Disclaimer I received a Breastvest nursing vest in exchange for a review, all opinions are entirely my own.

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