In other, unrelated news my stepmother has left my dad. We saw it coming, but it's still weird.
- Breastfeeding can help you lose your 'baby weight' (I'm eating enormous quantities but the little guy is sucking the calories right outa me. In the interests of full disclosure, some of my friends have reported that they held on to their baby weight until they finished breastfeeding).
- It's enjoyable - finally. It releases a really nice hormone cocktail which makes me feel calm and dreamy. The effect is stronger for some women and nearly non existent for others. I suspect it's the only reason we can handle the pain or discomfort involved with learning to breastfeed.
- Breastfeeding forces you to sit down and get some kind of relaxation. Any extra rest is a huge bonus for any parent
- I personally get a strong sense of accomplishment from my little boy growing so well (and quickly) on nothing but what I create for him.
- It will probably hurt, but only for the first 10-30 seconds after the baby latches. If it keeps hurting the baby isn't latched right. This can happen for up to 8 weeks.
- De-latch the baby by sticking a clean pinky finger into the baby's mouth beside the nipple to break the seal.
- Hold the baby in the opposite hand to the breast that you are feeding from, with the weight of the baby's head on your first and second finger and your thumb loose to help position the baby's head correctly.
- Stroke your nipple from the baby's nose down to it's mouth, it'll open it's mouth wide.
- You are aiming to have pretty much the whole of the nipple and aureole in the baby's mouth.
- Most importantly, bring the baby to the breast, don't try and somehow take the breast to the baby (this sounds obvious but isn't always so easy or simple when you are in the thick of things).
My friend T was very worried because she had heard how painfull breastfeeding can be but hadn't thought of any of the benefits that I take for granted, she also doesn't know anyone who breastfed (except me) so hasn't seen breastfeeding happening or talked about how it can be with any successful breastfeeders. Not knowing what to expect makes her scared. Now, I'm all for choice but I strongly believe breast milk is best for babies and that mothers want the best for their babies. I also believe that despite hospitals with lactation consultants and helpful midwives we don't offer enough support for breastfeeding women, because it help to see it all happening and generally in our society we don't ever see someone else learning to breastfeed. Just like I find it hard to have patience for people who say they don't like something without trying it first I get frustrated when women don't try to breastfeed their baby because they think they won't like it, but I have nothing but sympathy for women who try to breastfeed and give up because of the difficulties many of them encounter. I definitely don't blame women who don't breastfeed after. Somehow I became a lactivist and didn't even realise!
So as I was going to sleep last night I decided to send her a list of benefits along with a lend of my copy of 'Breastfeeding Naturally' which is the ABA's complete guide to breastfeeding and maybe some breastfeeding supplies like Lanisoh, Breastfeeding Tea, nipple protectors and/or shells and breastpads (actually, this would be a great breastfeeding gift pack for any new mum!). I thought I would post my list of benefits here as well:
- Breast is the healthy choice for babies. I’m not going to cite studies, because there are just too many of them and as far as I know there is nothing to suggest that formula is better for babies except in exceptional circumstances (such as the mother needing to be on certain medications or working closely with toxic chemicals).
- Breast is the healthy choice for mothers. Apparently there is a lowered risk of breast cancer in women who have breastfed but again, I don’t have references.
- Breast is cheaper than formula. That stuff is EXPENSIVE people!
- Breast is always the right temperature and consistency, no measuring up.
- Breast is hygienic (no washing and sterilizing bottles, finding boiled water, etc etc).
- You always have your breasts with you! (Yes, I know this can be a disadvantage if you want to leave your baby for a bit. It’s kinda hard to leave your breasts as well!)
- No preparation time, except for the time it takes to open your top
- No cleaning up, except popping your breastpad back in your bra.
- Less likely
- Babies seem to really like it!
- It changes in makeup depending what your baby needs.
- It's pretty hard to overfeed a breastfed baby, and if you feed on demand it's pretty hard to underfeed them as well
- If they do get sick they recover much quicker, because they are getting antibodies through the milk
- If you breasfeed, there will be a moment when you look down to see your baby pulling off the breast and your milk spraying over his or her beloved little face and he or she will look directly through your eyes and into your heart and grin, and it will all be worth it (for a while at least).
What have I forgotten? I know some of these pros can be cons as well, but I want to focuss on the positives for my friend.
Originally uploaded by karmakeda.
We went to the ECHC (Early Childhood Health Centre) for Asher's 4 month check on Wednesday. When I made the appointment the only ECH nurse who had time was the one I like less but since I don't have any concerns about his growth or development I didn't feel the need for an in depth conversation with my preferred nurse. The visit went fine, he is measuring 62.5cm and 6.35kg which is a pretty dramatic growth for a small born baby. At birth he was just 48cm and 2.66kg.
Anyhow, Asher was atypically unsettled and crying (I don't think he liked the nurse!) the ECH nurse checked his hips and then gave him a hard plastic rattle to check that he can grasp things. Now, I watch him grabbing things one handed, bringing his hands together to grab something (he loves doing this with the soft little orange elephant I balance on his chest) bringing things to his mouth, watching and copying our mouth movements and other developmentally appropriate 'tricks' so I'm quite confident that there is no problem there, but I know the nurse has to see it to tick the little boxes. Anyhow, he was already unhappy and when she gave him the hard plastic rattle he whacked himself in the head with it and started to really cry. I got his soft monkey off his stroller, pried the hard plastic rattle out of his vice-like grip and let him take the monkey while cooing to him that it might better not to bonk himself in the head with something hard. The ECH nurse muttered something about overprotective parenting and that was pretty much the end of the visit.
I didn't think about it much at the time, I felt put out because I don't consider myself overprotective and I was focused on getting out of there and having coffee with Sanjay and the baby at my local cafe haunt but it's been playing on my mind more and more. Am I, in fact, overprotective? I assume that most people, even those that I consider overprotective would think of themselves as just being careful, so where does that leave me? I guess overprotectiveness is just more paranoid and careful than whatever the norm is. But obviously those norms are different for people in different situations - we all heard the refrain of 'we never bothered with that in my day and my kids turned out ok' (I always think, but what about the kids who didn't turn out ok, because they weren't strapped into carseats or whatever).
Aaaaanyway, that is more tangential than I wanted to get. This post was just meant crow about my boy's excellent growth and development and whinge about nutty ECH nurses.
That's my update, have a great day.
The days usually start at not long after 6 when we here the little guy start to chat in his cot. I guess he must start to grizzle and Sanjay gets up, but I can't really think what happens at that time, coz I'm not really awake. Recently my back has been too sore to let me continue sleeping in bed (sometimes I can sleep on the couch, which is weird) but previously I'd keep sleeping til about 7:30 when I'd get up to find my breakfast made and Sanjay and the baby on the floor in the lounge room hanging out together. Between when I wake up and 8:30 I spend my time hassling Sanjay to get off to work in the hope that if he gets to work early he'll get home early. He never gets there early. Asher gets back to sleep between 8:30 and 9:30 and our routine goes out the window from then til late afternoon.
Well, I guess that's not strictly true. I used to try to get him to sleep after he had been up for an hour or two and I'm not sure when that evolved into our current chaos. I try to watch for tired signs but I don't always catch them so sometimes he gets a bit overtired, but we do what we can. At worst he only has 3 or 4 20 min naps at best he has a really long (2+ hour) nap and a few others. I can't complain though, because he's a very easy night time baby.
In the late afternoon we have a real routine, one that I more-or-less created rather than one that is purely organic. Sometime between 4 and 5 I recognise that Asher is getting tired and grouchy. It usually happens about the same time when I am getting tired and grouchy and would really like to have a cup of tea and not be holding a wriggly baby. At that point, if we are home (and I leave it as late as I can) we go outside and sit on the balcony. This started in the hot water when I wanted to water the balcony plants in the afternoon but now happens even if its cold and rainy like today. Either he sits in his little rocking chair while I wield the watering can or he sits on my lap and we just look out at the world. As close to 6pm as I can manage it we come inside and I feed him (one b00b), generally with the TV on. Sanjay usually gets home before 7pm and bathes the baby, either in the baby bath or they have a shower together. After his bath I get him ready for bed then he gets the other side and either Sanj or I put him to sleep. Generally he is asleep in his bed by 7:30pm.
The joy is that he then stays asleep til at least 2am, occasionally as late as 4:30am when he gets fed one side, has his nappy changed, fed the other side then wrapped up and put back in his bed. Generally Sanj gets the baby, I feed him, whoever is feeling most generous changes him and I put him back to bed, without putting him to sleep first. Then the whole cycle starts again.
I'm very lucky that he's so easy at night and even though he is generally pretty cheerful during the day I would love him to sleep a bit more regularly so I can plan my days around his sleeps a little better. I might blog a day or two of sleep/wake/feed times and see if that shows me any patters. It will almost certainly bore any readers!
I'm enjoying it so far (around two thirds of the way through) but so far there has been nothing particularly revolutionary in it. Or I'm missing what it has to offer? From what I understand the author believes that resilience is incredibly hard to define, possibly because it's so fluid. Individuals, communities and families can all display resilience and one of the ways resilience is fostered is with connectedness. I wish I knew why I'm not loving it though. Maybe I will as I continue reading and thinking about it, or maybe it will take E reading it once I've finished (she's going to borrow my copy) to talk to me about it to bring me 'round and help me understand it.
So why, despite all indications to the contrary, do I love my Thursdays? The potential for unpleasantness is very real but when it comes down to it these women are my colleagues in this job of mothering. Just like colleagues in any other workplace I have made some friends and work to remain on good terms with everyone. The talk as we sip our coffees has the same tone as workplace gossip and I mean that in the most positive way possible. We talk shop about feeding and sleeping, we learn different ways of doing things from each other, we compare notes about the fathers (there are no single parents in the group) and our domestic situations and we commiserate with each other over difficult inlaws and having to go back to paid work.
The baby is waking up, so I'll leave my discussion of how this ties into the book I'm currently reading until another time, but I guess that this confirms that I'm not cut out to work full-time from home or work on my own.
I have consciously talked about mothers in this post rather than parents. In part it's because I don't know any IRL Stay At Home Dads at this point and also because I think that although SAHDs would experience some of the isolation there is a whole other bag of familial and social expectations, identity and body issues that SAHDs would not need to confront in their role (although there is a bunch of other crap they would have to face).
Pleasant and easy turned out to be the theme of the weekend. E's boys were lovely and apart from a tick and a bit of early adolescent flatness they seemed to have a pretty good time. It was nice for Sanjay and I to have another adult around to help with Asher-wrangling (and the two boys were SO cute with him!) and I think E enjoyed having the adult company. All in all it was a surprisingly relaxing weekend, Sanjay and I even managed a swim with the boys while E stayed back at the house with Asher and tried to mark assignments. All of us decided that the kid swapping experiment worked. E got to reminisce and we got a little window into a possible future.I think that after Asher's incredibly long sleep on Friday both in the morning and then later in the car precipitated a developmental leap.
On Saturday he woke up and seemed to want to talk. His vocalisation had increased and changed significantly. He gazes intently at our mouths when we talk to him and works his lips and tongue exactly like any adult trying to learn a difficult new word. He also like taking turns with vocalising, oohing, ahing, mming and occasionally blowing little raspberries and then falling silent, looking at us, while we talk back to him. I have been trying to encourage him to say mum-mum-mum-mum. It is a very rewarding for both of us to get such easy and enthusiastic interaction with the little guy and I really feel like this is the start of a new kind of relationship with this little person.
This morning I'm madly packing for our weekend away. S is doing a half day at work and should be home by 3pm (he says 2, I don't believe him) so I've put the car seat in the inlaws car* and while the baby is sleeping I'm trying to get as much of the cleaning and packing done as possible. Which is why I'm sitting here on the computer. Obviously.
I'm really looking forward to being away but I'm kinda scared of the process of going away. Asher's unsettled time, when he like to be bounced and fed and constantly entertained is right during the time when we will be driving, and with his long sleep this morning it might mean that we have up to 4 hours of crying or grizzling baby. I just don't know if I can handle that. I'll update when I get back on how it all went, but please wish me well.
*they like us to take their bigger car. They feel it's safer. Whatever.
I know I'm in a pretty positive frame of mind at the moment because I was all 'meh, it's only a cockroach, not a spider' so I thought this might be a good frame of mind to be in to start blogging. I'm just going to test this out, see how it goes and whether I've got the time to update it before I let anyone know about it.